Attention: Cretins Are in Charge of Bulgarian Education!

Novinite Insider » EDITORIAL | Author: Ivan Dikov |June 5, 2011, Sunday // 08:11
Bulgaria: Attention: Cretins Are in Charge of Bulgarian Education!

Resorting to insults to prove a point hardly ever works but the word "cretin" here suggests a medical condition rather than an offense.

Because this is the only term fit for describing an entire army of "educators" in today's Bulgaria who have decided to literally decree more freshman spots in Bulgarian universities than the entire number of Bulgarians born in a respective year.

That's right. Turns out that if you are born in today's Bulgaria, you don't need to exert your efforts even a tiny bit – you are guaranteed a spot in a university where you can disrupt at will some decent kid's attempt to get some sort of decent higher education - simply by the fact of you being there (not to mention your behavior and attitudes).

The Bulgarian government recently decided to increase the openings for freshmen in the country's universities (both private and state schools) from 66 371 to 71 680 – which is about the number of children born in Bulgaria in 1993. Just like that. The government sat around their table and did it, apparently incapable of fathoming the consequences.

Have you been to a Bulgarian university? I have. I have also been to an American, German, and Russian one. Trust me, the Bulgarian one fares much worse not because the professors and the students are dumber but because an entire system seems to be in place, as if deliberately, to screw up their education through a number of bureaucratically idiotic regulations, decisions, requirements.

Do you know what it does to a university class's academic quality, training, discipline, etc to have let in somebody who doesn't belong there? To understand the Bulgarian higher education today, imagine that you have let in more people who don't belong than those who do belong. Good luck getting an education, you poor confused kid who didn't get on the plane to the USA or Germany!

I deliberately waited a couple of weeks before I wrote this little article, hoping to see somebody in Bulgaria react to this nonsense. Nobody has. As often happens in Bulgaria, the most important things go unnoticed by its people, including by the "intelligentsia" and the "elite" who usually has its attention focused on the latest boobjob of some pop-folk singer (who's not even pretty).

Three years ago I wrote an editorial entitled "Size Does Matter", arguing that securing adequate university class numbers is a really simple pre-condition for high-quality education which is important beyond imagination, and that it is a problem which is easily fixable, without requiring massive funding or long periods of time to take effect.

Back then, there were a couple of negative comments by some of our readers from around the world slamming my "number" arguments. These readers, however, can't imagine that Bulgarian universities resemble a disco with no ID control where everybody gets in and engages in underage drinking at will. There is no way the party won't get out of control under these circumstances.

Since then, it has only gotten worse. Why the heck does Bulgaria need 51 universities with a terrible quality of education when it can have 10-15 schools - like Austria, for example - with decent quality just by a matter of a few simple management decisions?

Note that out of those 51, 37 are state schools, only 14 are private in spite of the hue and cry against the quality of private universities and colleges often raised in the Bulgarian media. 

Yay! Communism still runs Bulgarian education. You know the "great deal" about communism, right? Everybody has the same stuff, and everybody is equally poor. In this case, everybody gets a university education that is equally poor. Except that back in the communist days they emphasized discipline more than anything. And a fair amount of education quality came with that. 

Higher education in Bulgaria has become so devalued that diplomas virtually mean nothing, while those who believe in and try to profess values such as academic prowess have become the laughing stock of their more numerous and hardly literate classmates.

The latter are the majority, who - God knows why - think it is a good idea for them, their country, the EU, the fight against global warming, contacts with alien civilizations, and the universe to delude themselves that they belong in a university. When the exception becomes the rule, there are no rules any more.

By the way, this horrendous orgy of granting everybody a free pass to Bulgaria's universities also goes for the so called "elite high schools". Thes are schools that require entrance exams after 7th grade to get into, and focus their curriculum on foreign languages, math, and natural sciences, and which indeed used to produce well-educated seniors.

Bulgaria's birthrate has been collapsing since 1985. You would think that would make those in charge adjust education admission numbers – to both universities and special high schools. Indeed they have – by admitting more and more kids until there is nobody left to admit.

Back to my point about communism, it is interesting that in the past 15 years Bulgaria totally reformed its armed forces – switching from an army of underfed conscripts to much smaller professional forces.

Instead of taking the same direction as the army, Bulgarian universities today are like the Warsaw Pact armies in 1992 – with enormous numbers of conscripts, terrible training and poor resources. I just wish there was some kind of an "educational NATO" which Bulgaria had to join that would force its authorities to fix the situation, or that the EU had specific requirements capping university admission figures.

Don't let me forget to mention that the Bulgarian government said its decision to beef up the student admission numbers was "based on the principle for wide access to higher education." Oh, my! What a principle! It basically means: you are born, you have a spot in an institution that previously might have once been worthy of the name "university."

Right now 3% of Bulgarians know what the EU actually is. These are the same guys who know what a platypus is, or what the Paris Commune was, as surveys of the Bulgarian population's competences have found. And Bulgaria provides 0.25% of the EU's GDP.

You can expect even these modest numbers to decline further in inverse proportion to the increase of university admission rates. Actually, the only thing capping the number of admitted students in Bulgaria are Malthusian factors such as the birthrate.

I don't want to believe that they are all that stupid, i.e. "cretins" in the colloquial meaning of the word. And I don't like conspiracy theories proclaiming that the West, the East, the extra-terrestrials, or the Barca-Loungers are plotting to steal Bulgarian brains while dooming the Bulgarian nation to being dumb forever.

The explanation to which I am going to stick - because it makes the most sense - is that they must all be mentally challenged, to use a more politically correct term.

All of them: the Bulgarian governments (not just the present one but all of them since I can remember), ministers, deputy ministers, Members of Parliament, university presidents, university boards, local authorities, education inspectors, the non-existing civil society, you name it.

As long as this is the case, students in Bulgaria will excel in only one major discipline: general hanging out. And so will the Bulgarian economy.

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Tags: higher education, higher education reform, university, universities, university degrees, Education ministry

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