Many children from minority groups in Bulgaria have no access to Internet and online education. This problem occurs because of the financial instability of these groups combined with the global pandemic that the country is facing.
According to the Bulgarian National Radio (BNR) around 10% or 1,300 children from the Lovech region have not taken part in the online education. Bulgaria has 28 provinces, which raises the number as high as 35,000 to 40,000 children, reports Darik news.
Because of the circumstances the schools in province Gabrovo, municipality Sevlievo had to handle the problem in a different way.
“During the attempt for an online environment, every week we had to walk around the houses of the children and give them their weekly lessons and assignments on paper, which we prepared beforehand. I was responsible for the children in Sevlievo,” says Polya Abadzhieva, a teacher at Primary School Hristo Botev in Dobromirka.
There have been attempts from different organization such as AMALIPE (Roma organization working for equal integration of Roma in the Bulgarian society) and the government to provide the children in need with the necessary equipment for online classes. However, they have met certain difficulties.
“Тhe same problem often occurs with minority groups. The devices they are given could appear in pawnshops afterwards,” says Plamen Hristov, a class teacher at Primary School St St Cyril and Methodius, in Dushevo. He is not the only one who makes this claim. Krasimir Valchev, the education and science minister in Bulgaria said that a big amount of devices previously distributed were either sold or bet on.
The Lens asked Vanesa, a student at the Primary School St St Cyril and Methodius, about the needed equipment for online education. The child, who is 11 years old and has 7 siblings, answered that she has a phone but no Internet. “The computer at home is for my older sister. She has to study. A woman from the school was coming at home and gave me papers from which I studied, and I returned them to my teacher,” added the child.
The teaching process at St St Cyril and Metodius Primary School, Photograph: Nadezhda Pencheva
Yesterday approximately 170,000 children returned to the classrooms. According to Krasimir Valchev if the situation worsens, older students will have to go back to online education.
In two weeks time, more students are expected to return to physical education which means that soon the Covid-19 measures may have to tighten. But there is hope in the situation.
“We are definitely more prepared for future lockdowns because of the technologies that we are going to buy,” says Marielka Tsoneva, the headmistress of Primary School St St Cyril and Methodius, in Dushevo.