Schools in Bulgaria

Bulgarian society has traditionally valued education very highly. Although Bulgaria’s post-communist instability had an adverse effect on Bulgaria’s schools, the education system has since entered a period of recovery with the tertiary sector in particular experiencing profound growth.

Schooling in Bulgaria is compulsory from the age of five to 16, which includes two years of preschool education that are required for by law. There are four stages of schooling in Bulgaria – preschool, primary school, lower secondary school and upper secondary school.

Although Bulgarian schools have high standards of education, most expats send their children to international schools due to the language barrier in public schools.

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Public schools in Bulgaria are relatively inexpensive, and EU and EEA citizens have the right to attend Bulgarian public schools for free. This, as well as the quality of Bulgarian public schools, means that most Bulgarian children go through the public schooling system.

However, due to the language barrier and potential cultural differences, most expat families send their children to private or international schools.

On the other hand, expat families in Bulgaria for the long term may find that public schooling is an excellent way for their children to learn the language and integrate with the local culture.

Though Bulgarians traditionally send their children to public schools, private education is beginning to gain popularity.

The curriculum in Bulgaria’s private schools remains influenced by the state, which mandates that certain core courses be taught. Beyond this, private schools are able to supplement the curriculum with extras, such as offering a focus on business studies or intensive language courses.

Language academies are generally cheaper than international schools and can provide a bilingual or even multilingual education. This is a good option for families who find international school fees a little steep.

International schools allow expat students to continue learning the curriculum of their home countries. Teaching is usually in the language associated with the school’s country of origin.

Bulgaria is home to a number of international schools offering German, American, French, Canadian and British curricula among others, as well as the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum.

The majority of international schools in Bulgaria can be found in Sofia. Expats sending their children to international schools will find that school fees are their highest expense. High demand can often lead to oversubscription, so it’s a good idea to start applications as far in advance as possible.