Of the participants in a discussion meeting on childcare in Bulgaria, organized by the NGO “EQUILIBRIUM” on September 12th, 2017 at the NGO House – Sofia
THE PROBLEMS THAT WE SEE
We, the signed above, as participants in the discussion meeting initiated by the NGO “EQUILIBRIUM”, discussed our observations on the Bulgarian system and established practices for the care of early childhood and we came to the following conclusions:
- There are two opposing types of early childhood care: in the first the adults are “gardeners”, providing a safe environment that children explore and learn from their experience; in the second the elderly are “carpenters”, modeling the child as a tree, based on its ideals and ideas. In the Bulgarian family and professional practice, the second style is dominant.
- In Bulgaria, professionals and parents do not have a clear understanding and definition of what the game is.
- The new Pre-school and School Education Act creates a regulatory prerequisite for solving a number of problems in the care of early childhood development, but there are obstacles to changing practice and the imitation of new approaches.
- There is no focus on child-centered learning. Interference and control by adults is crucial.
- Children are treated as immature; they have no choice and are placed in the role of passive recipients of knowledge.
- The material base is good but not used for the purpose intended.
- There is a great need for early childhood experts.
- Teachers are placed in confusing situations, for which they are not prepared, they are not aware of their role in creating environment without control all the time.
- The groups in the kindergartens are huge, so the teacher cannot perform other than control functions.
- Lack of play at the early age distorts the personality and is a prerequisite for dropping out of school and asocial events.
THE SOLUTIONS WE OFFER
We are convinced that only open and honest analysis will lead to the real decisions we need. Here are just some of them that we discussed at the meeting:
o Start a thorough debate on the definition of the game with the participation of parents, professionals and policy-makers. We support the understanding that the game is what children do; through the game children learn about the surrounding reality and practice what they have learned and felt. Playing is a way for children to understand the complex world in which they are growing.
o Achieving a unified concept of early childhood development will protect Bulgarian practice in caring for children from inconsistent policies or the promotion of a culture of imitation.
o There is a need for a cardinal change in care in kindergartens, including a reduction in the number of children in a group to encourage the implementation of the concept of the game.
o Put resources and effort into the professional formation of early childhood caregivers.
o Parents should be informed about the game’s philosophy and convinced that luxury toys only restrict creativity and freedom.
o The Early Child Care System should focus on the individual development of the child and the environment that supports it, as well as building trust and respect.
o The NGO “Equilibrium” is committed to spread the innovative approach of its family center “In the World of Early Childhood” throughout the country.