Inclusive Education and Early Learning

All children, no matter their abilities or disabilities, origin and ethnicity, religion and culture, have the right to quality, inclusive preschool and education. See how UNICEF’s Inclusive education and early learning programme helps the most vulnerable

Children learning and playing at the kindergarten. They are building a tower of cubes
UNICEF Bulgaria/2017/Yotova


Inclusive education and early learning for the most vulnerable children in Bulgaria

Education plays a crucial role in development of the child’s personality, talents, mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential. UNICEF is working to support the inclusion of every child in quality education and ensuring that:

  • Every child is enrolling on time;
  • Every child is learning;
  • Every child is supported by effective and efficient governance. 

Providing quality education for all children is the only way to break the cycle of poverty.

Over 150 000 children at the age of 5-16 in Bulgaria are out of school. Every year around 15,000 children drop out from primary and lower-secondary education.

Inequities persist, especially ethnic disparities:
 45 per cent of Roma children in Bulgaria do not attend preschool and 15 per cent do not attend school.

As for children with disabilities, only about half are integrated into mainstream education, and it is estimated that 
14,000 children with disabilities are out of school.

Over 40% of children who attend school are found illiterate in reading, mathematics and science.


The Inclusive education and early learning programme in brief

UNICEF works with partners and government, NGOs, other UN agencies and the corporate sector to provide quality inclusive pre-school and school education for every child.

Access to early education – UNICEF is supporting the development of flexible early childhood education models that enable access of children from the most vulnerable families to quality early education. The pilot model in Kotel is already state funded and UNICEF will continue to support the mainstreaming of such models.

Inclusive education – UNICEF supports the development of inclusive environment in 35 kindergartens in the country that enables children with special needs to learn and play together with peers. The model includes transformation of the physical environment, skills development in teachers and educators and provision of specialized support by phycologists, speech therapists and special teachers. UNICEF is providing technical support to the Ministry of Education and Science for the development and implementation of violence prevention school protocols that help schools to build an inclusive and safe environment. 

Reducing school dropout – UNICEF is providing technical support to the Ministry of Education and Science for the implementation of the National Strategy on Reducing the Share of Early School Leavers. A cross-sectoral approach addressing child marriages and the right to education of Roma adolescent girls will be developed and tested in pilot regions. UNICEF is continuing its support for the development and mainstreaming of innovative technology-based education approaches for improving the learning outcomes of children at risk of dropping out.

Teacher training – UNICEF is working with academia, qualification centers and training organizations to support the development of pre-service and in-service training packages for teachers with a focus on inclusive education, child rights and violence prevention.

Support for refugee and migrant children – UNICEF is supporting the development of recreational and educational activities within the refugee centers in the country to facilitate the better adaptation of children in schools.

Child rights education and adolescent participation – UNICEF is supporting the implementation of Child rights education into the Bulgarian education system by establishing UNICEF clubs in schools and providing methodology and content on rights based approaches and child rights.