UNICEF and Partners launch "Welcome to School" Campaign
UN agencies, ministries and NGOs join forces to clarify rules for enrolling Ukrainian children in the Bulgarian education system
Sofia, August 17, 2022. Less than a month until the start of the new school year in Bulgaria. Following more than two years of pandemic and more than half a year of war in Ukraine return to school is seen as a chance for an entire generation to recover from the crisis of disrupted learning and to access additional support and socialisation for children scarred by the trauma of conflict and displacement.
"We know education and schooling are vital, they give the sense of normality and normalcy in children’s life. So I would really like to call upon all the parents and all the mothers – to enrol their children in schools, because children need education and it will give them the stability they need. At school, children meet new friends, can engage in a variety of activities such as learning Bulgarian language and psychosocial support, which further helps their mental well-being and integrate more quickly," said Christina de Bruin – UNICEF Representative in Bulgaria.
According to national authorities, there are over 39,000 children from Ukraine in Bulgaria. Some of them continue to study online in the Ukrainian education system, which prevents them from socialising with their peers in Bulgaria and benefiting from the additional support, language learning, participation in extracurricular activities and more Bulgarian schools can offer. About 530 children from Ukraine were enrolled in the Bulgarian education system in the last school year. Since the beginning of the summer 350 applications have been submitted by Ukrainian families for enrolling their children in school in Varna alone. Many parents are still hesitant about what to do about their children's education.
To help them make informed choices, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in partnership with the Access to Rights Foundation (ARF), the Astra Forum Foundation (AAF), the Bulgarian Red Cross (BRC) and the For Good Foundation launched the "Welcome to School" information campaign to enroll Ukrainian children in our country. It aims to support the efforts of the Ministry of Education and Science and the Ministry of Health to provide access to education and healthcare. The campaign aims to reach (online and offline) around 10,000 people and help families learn about all the benefits and specifics of the Bulgarian education system and be aware of the steps they should take.
"With the information sessions we organise in key locations, we want to encourage families to enrol their children in the Bulgarian education system and tell them this is the best solution for the upcoming school year", said Maria Yankova, Education Director at UNICEF Bulgaria.
Information meetings are held in 10 key locations in Bulgaria in Russian and Ukrainian. FAR advocates clarify the procedures that refugees from Ukraine can take to enrol their children in the Bulgarian education system (such as submitting applications to the Regional Education Department); and FAR experts clarify the health requirements for entering kindergarten and school (such as mandatory routine immunization against contagious childhood diseases). At the end of each session, there is time for questions and answers,along with dissemination of information broshures. Experts from government institutions (Ministry of education and Ministry of health) have also been invited to give updates. UNICEF's partners from Bulgarian Red Cross will provide additional explanatory sessions at the Blue Dot Refugee Support Centres and the For the Greater Good Foundation at its integration centre in Sofia.
For 75 years, UNICEF has worked in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. For more information about UNICEF and its work for children visit www.unicef.org.