The Bulgarians have a very nice proverb that still rings true today: "He who studies is he who will succeed."
In our dynamic world education is a wealth that no-one can steal from us and that we can bring with us no matter where in the vast world we decide to live. Studying foreign languages, the choice of a profession with a future, the ability to blend into a multicultural environment, to be a leader, to have innovative ideas: these are just some of the requirements modern children and youths should meet in order to be successful tomorrow.
The extent to which Bulgarian state education is prepared to create such personalities is a matter of debate. For years, however, private education in this country has been in line with the novelties in the international education and economy, without losing touch with the traditions in its roots. Yes, private education in Bulgaria is much older than what you may think.
"Originally founded in 1860, the American College of Sofia (ACS) today is an independent, highly selective, co-educational secondary school that brings together the values and best practices of American education with the great tradition of teaching and learning in Bulgaria and Europe," says Dr. Richard T. Ewing, Jr, the president of the college (Sofia, Mladost 2, Floyd Black lane, www.acs.bg). "Our primary mission is to educate Bulgarian youth, as it has been throughout the College's history as the leading school in the Balkans. In addition, we welcome qualified students of all nationalities, races, and faiths, and we believe that a diverse student body enriches the educational experience for all. Using English as the primary language of instruction, the College offers a rigorous core curriculum – tempered by an array of electives and extra-curricular activities in the visual and performing arts, science, athletics, journalism, student government, and numerous clubs – that prepares students to meet the most demanding criteria of universities around the world," Dr Ewing, Jr, adds.
"The exceptional educational philosophy and practices of ACS have enabled generations of students to achieve outstanding academic success, develop critical thinking skills, become enthusiastic lifelong learners, demonstrate sensitivity to the global human condition and the environment, cherish democratic values, and become responsible citizens and leaders in Bulgaria and around the world. The American College of Sofia is a remarkable placе: a school with both a storied history and a powerful new presence. My wife, Jane, and I are so pleased to be a part of the ACS educational community, and we encourage you to find out more about this extraordinary institution by exploring our website (www.acs.bg) or by contacting the College directly," Dr Ewing, Jr, says.
The traditions in private education in Bulgaria include as well educational institutions like the Anglo-American School of Sofia and the Alliance – Language School for Children and Adults.
Anglo-American School of Sofia: Preparing children for tomorrow
The Anglo-American School of Sofia (Pancharevo, 1 Siyanie St, phone: +359 2 923 8810, www.aas-sofia.org) is an independent, non-profit school, offering an educational programme from pre-kindergarten through grade 12 for students of all nationalities. The school's mission is to engage, support and prepare each student for today and tomorrow. Its core values are commitment, respect and excellence. Founded in 1967, AAS has a rich history of providing a high-quality education to the children of the international community residing in Sofia. Currently it has more than 520 students, aged 4 to 18, from over 50 countries. More than 60% of the teaching staff and students are holders of international passports. The Anglo-American School of Sofia is accredited by the Council of International Schools (CIS) and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). AAS-Sofia is an authorised International Baccalaureate World School and a member of the Central and Eastern European Schools Association (CEESA) and the Council of British International Schools (COBIS). Students and staff have opportunities to participate in a variety of activities, athletics and professional development in the region. Education at the Anglo-American School of Sofia is viewed as more than acquisition of knowledge. The school's curriculum is based on the best practices of international education, and the language of instruction is English. The foreign languages taught at AAS include Bulgarian, French, and Spanish. AAS provides 15 full-academic scholarships for talented Bulgarian students each year.
Alliance – Language School for Children and Adults: The power of tradition
With history, which started in 1948 and through the decades turned the name of Alliance (Sofia, Central office: 1 Kapitan Andreev St; Language and exam centre: 45 Maria Louisa Blvd; www.alliance-bg.com) into a synonym of foreign language education, the school for children and adults has won a noteworthy authority. The alumni of Alliance successfully pass the most prestigious standards for language proficiency, and in the beginning of 2017 the school received yet another recognition: two awards by the British Council. The golden statute under the ADDVANTAGE programme is a recognition for the success of Alliance students at the Cambridge language exams – Starters, Movers, Flyers, KET, PET, FCE, CAE and Proficiency, and also of the professionalism of their teachers. The school as well received a special award for the largest group of students who attended the Cambridge Proficiency examination in Bulgaria. Alliance provides also an excellent preparation and is the exam centre for the English language tests PTE (Pearson Test of English) and PEARSON JETSET LCCI. It also offers excellent preparation for the Goethe-Institut exams for German language. Combining tradition and modern methods, the school offers courses in English, German, French, Italian and Russian languages for a wide spectrum of ages: from the youngest making their first steps in study of foreign languages, to students to adults.
Most of the private schools and universities in Bulgaria were created after the post-1989 liberalisation. Throughout the years, the most ambitious of these became true institutions of knowledge, which give to their students excellent education and strong start in life.
Helen Doron English: The fun and pleasant way to learn a language
Early childhood is the best age for a kid to start learning a foreign language, or languages. The Helen Doron English (www.helendoron.bg, FB: HelenDoronBulgaria) method has proven throughout the years as working, effective and reliable. Children at Helen Doron English look forward to a rich learning experience designed to help them develop natural cognitive abilities and reach their highest potential with joy and enthusiasm. Helen Doron English starts with babies so that the children can learn English like a mother-tongue. Bilingualism from an early age results in greater brain capacity for learning sciences, maths, music, arts and other academic subjects later in life. The children learn with a proven methodology and are taught by certified teachers. They become confident, life-long learners, and exhibit a positive attitude towards English that stays with them throughout their school years.
Colegio Español Reina Sofía: To create a person
Achieving a balance between an education providing good perspectives and the building of the student as a wholesome person is a hard, but extremely important task. Colegio Español Reina Sofía (Sofia, temporary base on 2 Lozengrad St, phone: 02 48 333 53, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.ispanskouchilishte.com) is dedicated to the mission of discovering this fragile balance and applying it in real life. The school unites all the educational stages from a children’s centre and kindergarten to 12th grade and works after the established principles of the Spanish Fundación Arenales (www.fundacionarenales.es), an educational leader in the Spanish-speaking world. Reina Sofía offers complete two-language education from an early age, in accordance with the Bulgarian state requirements. The school puts equal efforts on the academic success and on the forming of its students as thinking, emphatic and open to the world people. Every day after the obligatory lessons the children from preschool have lessons in history of the world art and on Bulgarian, Spanish and world traditions. The practical side of the lessons include making of objects on the subject, music and dances. The parent plays a key role for the successful education of his child, and each student has a personal mentor who follows up his progress, prepares an individual study plan and communicates with the family and the other teachers. Colegio Español Reina Sofía creates conditions for the successful development of its students and their formation as wholesome personalities.
Drita Private secondary school and kindergarten: The road to success
Established in 1990 as a private kindergarten, which in 2000 grew to a primary, lower secondary and upper secondary school, Drita (Sofia, 13 Kamenitsa St and 330 Simeonovsko Shose Blvd, phone: 02 961 3242, www.dritaschool.com) educates students with confidence who realise their potential and are proud of their achievements. Drita creates a secure, stimulating environment where each child is supported and is educated as a part of a community. The team encourages the setting of high goals and their fulfilment, and perceives each success as important. The school offers a variety of activities, thus providing each student with a way to demonstrate his or her talents. Drita recognises the importance of work with parents for the success of the children, and synchronises its efforts with the family. Qualified staff works in the school, and the environment is equipped with modern technologies. English is the main foreign language taught from the kindergarten to the end of secondary school, and during the upper secondary phase of the education students specialise in languages, mathematics and physics, or biology and chemistry. The curriculum meets the requirements of the Bulgarian Ministry of Education.