Hundreds Protest in Bulgaria over Proposed Drafts of School Education

Society » EDUCATION | January 30, 2016, Saturday // 15:41
Bulgaria: Hundreds Protest in Bulgaria over Proposed Drafts of School Education A photo of protesters in the town of Karlovo, Central Bulgaria, January 30, 2016. BGNES

Demonstrations have taken place in several towns and cities across Bulgaria after reports emerged that the Education Ministry is planning to revise key sections of the school curriculum referring to the years of Ottoman rule.

Karlovo, the hometown of national hero Vasil Levski who dedicated his life to liberate Bulgaria, drew hundreds of people from neighboring Sopot, Kalofer and elsewhere, other towns that took a prominent role during the National Revival years in the 19th century. They voiced their indignation with what they believe will be a substitution of history, according to the Bulgarian National Radio.

Citizens are protesting against a draft version of a curriculum for 2nd-6th grade school students which contains as a bullet the notion of "coexistence" between Bulgarians and other ehtnic and religious groups during the years of Ottoman rule.

The draft, which was published on the website of the Education Ministry, sparked controversy, with some media outlets any certain groups of citizens maintaining the goal is to replace the term "servitude" with "coexistence" to describe the relations between Bulgarians and Ottomans between the end of the 14th and the 19th century.

The scandal, alongside several other affairs, raised social anger and pushed Prime Minister Boyko Borisov to ask Education Minister Todor Tanev to step down, despite the latter's assurances the term "coexistence" was just a proposal to describe a situation in which people from different groups live together sharing traditions and customs and bears no relation whatsoever to the deprivation of rightrs most Christians faced within the boundaries of the Ottoman Empire.

On Saturday, however, a protester accused the government of trying to "remove" some part of history from schoolbooks.

Demonstrations also took place in the Black Sea city of Varna and in the Rhodope town of Smolyan.

Bulgaria was liberated from the Ottoman Empire in 1878, with the world "servitude" having been designed back then to help create bonds among Bulgaria and being considered part of the national identity.

Some historians, on the other hand, maintain the right term is "Ottoman rule", which in their words is less emotional than "servitude" and corresponds better to historical reality.

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Tags: protest, demonstration, Karlovo, Kalofer, Sopot, Varna, Vasil Levski, Ottoman Empire, Ottoman rule, servitude, coexistence, Todor Tanev, Boyko Borisov
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