SOLIDAR Foundation launches its second national report in the framework of the 2018 Citizenship and Lifelong Learning Monitor. The release of the Bulgarian national report is timely, coinciding with the European Economic and Social Committee’s public hearing on civil society’s contribution to the upcoming European Semester cycle.
The European Semester is the EU’s framework for coordinating economic and social policies across its Member States. It is a year-long process, starting with the Annual Growth Survey (AGS) which sets out the European Commission’s priorities for the upcoming cycle, and ending with the release of the Country Specific Recommendations (CSRs), detailing the areas in which each EU Member State has to improve. Given the social convergence goal of the European Semester, and its ever-increasing link with EU funding, civil society organisations must take an active role in setting the agenda of the European Commission and in contributing to the process that informs the elaboration of the CSRs, to ensure that their challenges and needs are reflected.
In the last cycle, the CSRs flagged up serious issues in Bulgaria in the education field. Investment in research, the strengthening of digital skills, and the improvement of the inclusiveness of education and training were clearly spelt out as recommendations. The full CSRs for Bulgaria can be seen here. SOLIDAR Foundation’s national report on Bulgaria reinforces the CSRs, as it identified the increased discrimination, especially towards Roma people, in the education sector. Moreover, it has highlighted the problematic nature of citizenship education promotion in Bulgaria, as greater access to it needs to be made available, while this topic needs to be reinforced in the national curricula.
As Bulgaria’s nominee for the next European Commission, Mariya Gabriel, prepares for the Innovation and Youth portfolio, essentially taking over most of the responsibilities in the education sector, the country urgently needs to address access to quality education, and especially to citizenship education, as well as the growing digital skills gap.