About Bulgaria - ICN

By way of tradition the Bulgarians have always valued highly erudition, making efforts to give their children good education. It is no accident that towards the end of the 9th C. Knyaz Boris invited the students of the founders of the Slavonic alphabet Sts. Cyril and Methodius and they became archefounders of education in Bulgaria. Centre of educational activities in the 9th-10th centuries were the literary schools of Ohrid and Preslav, where teaching and dissemination of knowledge were initiated and during the years of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom (1186-1396) such were the literary schools of Kilifarevo and Turnovo that emerged as institutions of higher education, where theology and philosophy were taught. Well-known from that time are the tsar's libraries, the libraries at the literary centres and monasteries.
In the first centuries of Ottoman rule (1396-1878) the only educational centres were the schools at the churches and the monasteries (the so-called cell schools). Instruction in these schools was mainly in the theological-religious vein.
In the 16th-17th centuries the literary schools Sofia and Etropole, the monasteries of Rila and Bachkovo attain significance.
In the years of enlightenment the idea of national education, taken up by Paisiy Hilendarski, was further developed and put to practice by Sofroniy Vrachanski, Neofit Rilski, Petur Beron, Vasil Aprilov, the brothers Dimitur and Konstantin Miladinovi and many other outstanding figures of the Bulgarian National Revival. Gradually the church schools were substituted by secular (mutual instruction and classroom) schools where classes were taught in current Bulgarian.
Towards the middle of the 19th C. the first community centres appeared - a unique form of educational organizations.
At present education is obligatory for all children between 7 and 16 years of age. It is free of charge at the public and community schools, and at the universities - only for those students accepted on the basis of state commission.
At private schools the state undertakes to provide basic equipment and gratuitous textbooks. A legal provision exists for opening of foreign educational institutions.
Higher education was initiated for the first time in 1888. The oldest institutions of higher education are to be found in Sofia: Sofia University (1888), the Academy of Medicine (1918), the Institute of Economics (1920), the Academy of Fine Arts (1921), the Conservatoire (1921), etc.
The Bulgarian Literary Society, established in Braila (Romania) in 1869 is considered the first Bulgarian scientific centre. In 1878 it transferred its activity to Sofia and in 1911 it was given the name of Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.
Of major national significance are also the Sts. Cyril and Methodius National Library in Sofia (1878) with its archive of Bulgarian literature, the Ivan Vazov National Library in Plovdiv (1882), the University Library in Sofia (1888).
Towards the end of the 19th C. the foundations of the Bulgarian national museums were laid. In 1990 Bulgaria had 223 museums. Some of the exhibits are unique - authentic works of prehistoric and idol plastic art, gold treasures and icons, works of art that can be traced back to antiquity, to the time of Thracian settlers, and to the Middle Ages. Outdoor museums have been arranged in the archaeological and ethnographical reserves - Nicopolis ad Istrum, Pliska, Preslav, Tsarevets Hill in Veliko Turnovo, Etura in Gabrovo and elsewhere.