Access to education for asylum-seeking children is provided explicitly in national legislation without an age limit. The provision not only guarantees full access to free of charge education in regular schools, but also to 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 school grade the child should be directed to, but this problem should be solved by the appointment of special commissions by the Educational Inspectorate with the Ministry of Education and Science. The increasing number of applicant children prompted more focus on their education. Overall 229 applicant children started the school year in Bulgaria, including – for the first time – 7 first-graders. SAR organised the daily commute to and from the school with civil society organisations stepped in to support children with preparatory and catch-up classes.
In 2021 all children accommodated in the centres were provided access to laptops, purchased by the Red Cross with AMIF co-funding, to secure children’s online access to primary and secondary education. However, none of these laptops could have been located in 2022 by the new management of the SAR.
Asylum-seeking children with special needs do not enjoy alternative arrangements other than those provided for Bulgarian children.
Moreover, asylum-seeking children may be detained in closed reception centres or facilities following the detention of their parents. This could deprive children of their right to education as accommodation in closed centres would effectively prevent them from accessing education, unless arrangements are 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 the right to access vocational training. Practical obstacles may be encountered by asylum seekers in relation to access to universities as they have difficulties to provide proof regarding diplomas already acquired in their respective countries of origin. This is due to a lack of relevant information on diplomas. The academic autonomy of Bulgarian universities largely prevented the adoption of common government rules that would allow facilitated access for beneficiaries of international protection, taking into account their special circumstances and limited possibility to obtain official documents from their countries of origin.
 Article 26(1) LAR.
 SAR, 118th Coordination meeting held on 22 December 2022.
 EUAA, Annual Asylum Report (2022), available at: https://bit.ly/3JbdHYK.
 SAR, reg. No.РД05-72 from 26 February 2023.
 National Integration Plan for Children with Special Needs and/or Chronic Illness, adopted with Council of Ministers Ordinance No 6, 19 August 2002.
 Article 45e LAR.