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The Thin Line between Education and Unemployment

The number of public servants in the sphere of education is 189 517, and those in the private sector are only 4 389. The educational system comes as the fifth largest employer after the private firms (1. 6 milion employees), the industry workers (597 thousand ), the public servants (435 thousand) and the business (282 thousand people).

Two weeks ago, the Minister of Labour and social policy, Hristina Hristova, announced a salary increase in the educational system. This is, however, only a symbolic increase of around 6 leva, which comes to about 289. 08 leva. After all necessary deductions, the real salary comes to about 200 leva, leaving many Bulgarian families once more deceived.
The results are dismal and speak volume to the lack of long-term strategic planning. The quality of intermediate school education incessantly falls in view of minimal governmental incentives and insignificant enumeration. Meanwhile, the State does not support the work of the private sector when it comes to investments in the education.
Furthermore, the problems of the middle school education are then transferred to the level of post-secondary education.

Less and less do Bulgarian families have the financial capacity to send their children to university. Thus, the number of registered pupils has increased by 12 % in the period 1997/98 vis-а-vis 2002/03. Sadly enough, Bulgaria shows a more negative tendency of registered university students when compared to the other countries in Central and Eastern Europe. As an example, Poland has experienced an increase of 60 % for the same period, Latvia is with 57 %, and Slovenia with 46 %. Hungary has seen an increase in the number of students by 39 %. Bulgaria takes the last spot in the context of private investments in the sphere of education. The country allocates around 100 million euro annually, while Hungary, which is with comparable population and territory spends 4 times more per year.

Jan Figel, European Commissioner on Education and Culture visited Bulgaria recently. He noted that the European Union seriously regresses as opposed to the United States and Japan when it comes to private investments in the sphere of Education. Since this is true for the whole of European Union, it is even more valid in the context of Bulgaria, which has taken the chronic last place on almost all evaluation criteria in the education (e. g. attendance, quality, salaries, investments in equipment, etc).

Investments in the sphere of education are of long-term nature. Therefore, the system of education is not so attractive for governments, whose primary goal is with less money to achieve the same results. Increasing the quality of education is, however, vital because the market economy looks for qualified personnel. The lack of qualifications throws away the labor force out the market. Thus, the problem of unemployment even further increases. Luckily, on a macro level, a significant decrease in the unemployment rate in Bulgaria can be observed. While seven years ago, the rate of unemployment varied between 18-20 %, the national statistical institute has recorded for the last 2004 a level of only 12 % unemployment.