Access to education for asylum-seeking children is provided explicitly in national legislation without an age limit.1 The provision not only guarantees full access to free of charge education in regular schools, but also for vocational training under the rules and conditions applicable to Bulgarian children.
In practice there are some obstacles related to the methodology used to identify the particular school grade that the child should be directed to, but this problem should be solved by appointment of special commissions by the Educational Inspectorate with the Ministry of Education and Science. Presently, however, asylum seeking children accommodated in Pastrogor transit centre are deprived in practice from this right, as the SAR does not provide the necessary school arrangements in this remote area. In 2017, however, children have not been accommodated in this centre in principle, with exception of several unaccompanied adolescents.
No preparatory classes are offered to facilitate access to the national education system. In 2017 the Red Cross organised licensed trainings in Bulgarian language to 40 adults and 10 children in their Information Centre in Sofia, as well as to 30 children in Harmanli reception centre. Similar language trainings were provided by Caritas to approximately 350 asylum seekers and recognised refugees and subsidiary protection holders in their Integration Centre in Sofia, tailored in groups for adults, children, mothers with children, employed individuals, etc.
Asylum-seeking children with special needs do not enjoy alternative arrangements other than those provided for Bulgarian children.2
Moreover, asylum-seeking children may be detained in closed reception centres or facilities following the detention of their parents.3 This could deprive children of their right to education as accommodation in closed centres would effectively prevent them from accessing education, unless arrangements are not put in place to secure their transportation to the public schools. No practice is yet applied in this respect.
Adult refugees and asylum seekers have a right to a vocational training. Practical obstacles may be encountered by asylum seekers in relation to access to universities as they have difficulties to prove diplomas already acquired in their respective countries of origin. This is due to a lack of relevant information on diplomas.