424 Refugee Children in Bulgaria Unable to Go to School

Society | September 2, 2014, Tuesday // 10:29
Bulgaria: 424 Refugee Children in Bulgaria Unable to Go to School Photo by BGNES

Out of a total of over 520 refugee children living in Bulgaria, only 96 will go to school in the new school year, according to the State Agency for Refugees.

A total of 424 refugee children will not be able to attend classes as of September 15, despite the assurances of Bulgarian authorities of a swift solution of the problem, according to reports of Sega daily.

According to data of the Bulgarian Red Cross, only 50 children with a humanitarian or refugee status went to school last year. Refugee children are unable to attend classes due to red tape.

Bulgarian authorities still stick to an ordinance which should have been revoked because it cites articles of the Asylum and Refugees Act which have been revoked.

The ordinance stipulates that these children should complete a course in Bulgarian language at the State Agency for Refugees and pass an exam by a committee of the Agency before starting to go to school.

However, such courses were only launched over the past few months, with volunteers only teaching the children at refugee centers, according to Sega daily.

According to Bulgaria’s Education Act, in order to start going to school, a child coming from a foreign country has to present no less than 6 documents from the previous educational institution, all of which need to be translated and legalized.

In the case of refugees, this scenario is largely unthinkable as many of the schools have ceased to exist or are not functioning, or it is extremely difficult to get in touch with them, or the officials are demanding bribes for the issuance of the papers.

Bulgaria’s socialist-led government addressed the problem at the end of its term in office. However, the changes to the Asylum and Refugees Act they had prepared obly passed first reading.

Under the bill, refugee minors are to start going to school within 3 months of the submission of the application for protection, without undergoing exams and without submitting documents from the previous school, and, if necessary, additional language courses are organized for them.

However, the resignation of the socialist-led government and the subsequent dissolution of Parliament blocked the adoption of the much-needed legal changes.

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Tags: State Agency for Refugees, asylum seekers, Education Act, refugee center, Socialist-led government
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