SECONDARY EDUCATION TO KEEP VEGETATING NEXT YEAR
According to calculations made by the Ministry of Finance, BGN1.732BN will be allocated to the education system in 2005. That amount is by 10.7% higher than the one provided for the current year. There is no doubt the increase is necessary. The question is whether it will be sufficient. Most of the resources provided by the Treasury, BGN1.277BN, must be spent on secondary education. The increase in this sector is 8.7% compared to 2004. The money will be distributed among municipal and state schools across the country.BGN238.6MN will be paid to the Ministry of Education and Science directly from the budget. The money will cover the expenses of the secondary schools within the structure of the ministry. BGN37.3MN will go to the Ministry of Agriculture, BGN11.8MN - to the Ministry of Culture, and BGN4MN - to the Ministry of Youth and Sports.Additional BGN931MN from the budget will be paid directly to municipalities in order to enable the respective schools operate. Over BGN74MN of this money will cover current expenses, BGN11MN will be spent on scholarships, and BGN33.6MN will go for capital expenses. The education financial support planned by the municipal budgets has grown by BGN50.1MN as a whole. Still, the resources are extremely insufficient, experts comment. They calculate that at least one more 10% increase is needed in order to partially compensate the financial deficit accumulated in the secondary education system for the past years. Trade-unions alarm that there are no sufficient amounts planned for orphanages that should be supported by the municipalities, either. Despite the promises, subsidies for them have not been indexed in accordance with the inflation rate which dooms children living in these orphanages to life in misery. Trade-union members say there is no money for school healthcare as well as for food and text books for poor students.High school headmasters warn that even the funds for teachers' salaries are too insufficient. According to representatives of the trade-unions, the average working salary in the sector should become BGN320 and a lecturer's salary should reach at least BGN360. That is how teachers would be motivated to provide education of higher quality. The average remunerations amount to BGN283 and BGN324 now. However, the requested increase will swallow more than BGN40MN and will hardly be approved by the Ministry of Finance. Moreover, the financial ministry experts have doubts a measure of the kind will actually improve the quality of education. The Minister of Finance Milen Velchev himself have said many times that before making plans for higher expenses on the education, one should change the financing scheme first. He asked for guarantees that the money will not disappear after being sent to the Ministry of Education. However, his appeals towards exercising tighter control over the skills of the teachers differ a while from the figures stipulated by the 2005 financial plan in which the resources for assessment and analyses of quality in secondary schools have been cut by BGN3.6MN. Therefore, it is difficult to fulfil the draft budget intentions for continuing the reform in education and permanently assessing the results achieved. Even now, before the resources are cut, the educational ministry inspectors have difficulties controlling the education process incessantly. With their budget further cut, there are almost no chances to change the system, experts comment.Another intention of the Government deserving appraisal is the one to allocate BGN3.3MN for improving the teachers' qualification. The money will be sufficient mainly to cover courses in computer literacy. The initiative is in harmony with the planned speedy introduction of information technologies in the secondary education that will cost additional BGN30MN. Again, the financial resources do not correspond to the goals set. Specialists claim that these plans cannot be fulfilled with less than BGN60MN. If no money is found, plans for reforms will never be realized.