Youth Work vs. Euroscepticism

A contact-making seminar on Youth Work vs. Euroscepticism was held in Iasi, Romania, from 7th to 16th September. Representatives of the event were 9 countries – Bulgaria, Romania, Spain, Slovenia, Turkey, Greece, Italy, North Macedonia, Croatia. The coordinator of this event was Kasta Morrely.

The focus of the event was to share the reasons why and how Euroscepticism manifests itself and its impact on the relations between different nationalities. A similar problem was found between all of them, and that was fake news and the distortion of historical facts to build tension between different nationalities.

In this regard, the participants were divided into several working groups in order to be able to find solutions to the identified problems. The common problems of fake news, disinformation, can be tackled by following basic strategies that have been put in place to reduce the likelihood of reading manipulated information.

These are:
1. Verification of specific information from at least 3 sources, one of which is a paper on local media, which has transmitted facts from what happened.

2. Communication with representatives from a given region to check the events and break the prejudices towards a certain nationality.

3. Participation in Erasmus+ programs to broaden the worldview of the participants in order to ensure a better understanding and continuity of differences regarding the culture and history included in educational institutions.

The changed situation due to COVID-19 has shown an increase in mental illnesses and disorders in young people. Therefore, one of the working groups is concentrating its work on developing an Erasmus+ project to help young people in this direction.

Attention was paid to the new Erasmus 2021-2027 program, which focuses more on capacity building and providing more opportunities for the development of newly established NGOs. If you have an organization and an idea of ​​what you want to do in your local community, together with partners from other countries, the application procedure is open.

Another topic that was raised was the proper use of the media, whether offline or online and their impact on society. The need for youth organizations to gain more knowledge and experience in creating materials for the media was noted: videos, posters, articles, and radio recordings. Therefore, the participants in the seminar were divided into groups in which they worked using the method K.I.S.S. – Keep It Short and Simple to create the above materials. Good resources that you can look at in connection with the media algorithms for cognitive hacking of people are this documentary “The social dilemma” and this short video with information about the methodology that social networks use.


The importance of Financial literacy

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Bulgaria is one of the countries in Europe with the lowest levels of financial literacy. This is shown by a number of studies conducted in the years since the end of the communist regime in 1989. One of the most recent studies on the subject ranks our country 72nd in the world in the company of countries such as Sri Lanka, the Dominican Republic, and Gabon. Within the European Union, the average level of a financially literate population is 52%, and in Bulgaria, this percentage is only 35%.

What is the problem with the lack of financial literacy?

But we can guess the low level of financial literacy in the country by looking around. It is no coincidence that in the 90s of the last century in our country all sorts of financial schemes and frauds flourished, depriving thousands of their already scarce savings. This is not an accidental development and is due to some extent to the lack of adequate regulatory control mostly. But the biggest reason for the low financial literacy in our country is the tragic or even completely absent level of financial education within the educational system inherited from the communist era. However, the importance of financial literacy should not be underestimated. A basic understanding of finance is necessary so that we can adequately orient ourselves in the implementation of basic activities of our daily lives, which should be understandable to everyone.

Paying taxes, choosing a bank, opening and managing a bank account, taking out a mortgage loan, taking out any other loan are basic activities, which, however, suddenly become extremely difficult for a financially illiterate person. Not to mention activities such as investing the savings we have accumulated. Which, by the way, we are not able to accumulate without being financially literate. Are you beginning to understand the importance of financial literacy? It is relevant to every aspect of our lives.

Money or life? The answer is – both

If you do not know how to control your money, they will control you. This is the most fundamental dependence of finance, especially personal finance. We need financial literacy to be able to control our money. To know how to optimize the use of this money. This is not about deprivation. It’s about optimizing our spending so that we can get the most out of our personal finances.

It is very easy to find out if you control your money or they control you, just ask yourself the following. Do you know how much money you spend per day? Do you know how much you spent last time in the store? In the restaurant? What is your cost allocation? How much do they go for food, how much for housing bills, how much for rent, how much for entertainment? And for healthcare? What is your biggest monthly expense? Do you have money set aside in case of an urgent need – medical or if you lose your job?

If you do not know the answers to these questions, or at least most of them, then you have no control over your personal finances. And as you can see, these questions concern fundamental elements of your daily life, of your life. Paying bills, shopping, entertainment, personal health – this is literally your life. If you do not know exactly how much and how you spend your money, then you simply have no control over your life.

Taxes, loans – an unpleasant but inevitable part of life

The usefulness of financial literacy extends beyond our personal lives. For example, how many of you know how taxes work? Do you know how much you pay each month to the state in the form of various taxes and insurances (WHY you pay them is another matter)? Do you know the difference between your gross and net salary, ie. your salary before taxes and insurances and after they are paid? Do you know how the banking system works? Do you know what a credit rating is and are you aware that you have a personal one and every bank takes it into account when approving you for its credit services (borrowing and the like)?

Without a clear answer to these questions, it is extremely difficult to control your personal finances. What happens in your wallet is directly related to the way the tax and banking system of the country in which you live works. In some situations, for some people who avoid loans, understanding how the banking system works is not so critical. However, taxes and social security are inevitable. We all pay them, and not just once a month when we receive a salary. We pay for them every day, even with our shopping in the store or meeting for a beer with friends. For reference, visit the website where you can see how much taxes you pay personally, with your specific income level and your specific life habits.

Even if you avoid taking out loans (which, in principle, is a reasonable approach), knowing the banking system is necessary just to understand what is happening with your money. Nowadays, there is no person who does not have to use at least the deposit services of the banking system. But did you know, for example, that every time you put money in your bank account, you actually lend to the bank? Did you know that on the basis of this money and money from other current accounts the bank grants loans? Have you ever heard the term “partial reserve banking”, which refers to the way the modern banking system works? These are basic things. Not to mention some more advanced concepts such as credit rating. Lack of adequate knowledge of the banking system can be disastrous because at least one of the most important decisions in your life – buying a home – will almost certainly be tied to taking out a mortgage.

Need to understand the world we live in

So far I have mentioned absolutely nothing about investing. The reason for this is that without having the answers to all the questions I asked above, you are not ready to invest. Without knowledge of the basics of personal finance, which is necessary to control your money, investing is a pointless, even dangerous endeavor. Like building a house without first laying a solid foundation, if you invest without controlling your expenses, without having enough money saved, without optimizing your tax and credit obligations, the whole endeavor can collapse on your head. And even ruin you.

The purpose of this article is to make you ask a simple question – am I aware of what happens to my money at every moment of my life? This question, as it should already be clear, is far from as simple as it seems at first glance. Finding his answer may seem tedious, but it is certainly a very rewarding endeavor. After all, without financial literacy, we are simply unable to understand either our personal lives or the world in which we live. And in order to be able to manage something, you must first understand it.

Journalism as art

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To what extent the highest attempts for presenting
reality cannot be considered as an art?

What is art? And what is journalism?

The essence of art can certainly be said to have never existed if there is any clear definition of it. There are exceptions where a great mind did not try to cover and clearly name the work of one and what is the meaning hidden behind it, one’s spirit and creativity. A whole branch of Philosophy – Aesthetics tries to explain the very essence and problems of art.

The notions of art
From antiquity, Aristotle and Plato have had the strongest influence to this day on the essence of art. Aristotle’s poetics is still a fundamental book in dramaturgy and in it, he divides the arts as derived from the muses and led by the desire for imitation – aside from poetry and literary arts, epic poetry, tragedy, comedy, dithyrambs (a type of religious music). According to him, art is an attempt to embrace universal truths in individual cases of human existence.
For Plato, however, this imitation is nothing impressive – for the man for whom life is an imitation of eternal forms and ideals, the copy of the copy itself is only further distancing from the truth.
Burke in the 18th century in England mixed “A Philosophical Enquiry Into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful”, a work that will have an impact on the development of
art and philosophy in the next few centuries and will give impetus to
Enlightenment and Romanticism. In it, he separates the sublime from the beautiful – something which is in great contrast from ancient philosophy. For him, beauty is what is wonderful, soothing, and pleasing to the senses, and the sublime – a rather new concept that was
little known to the ancient world. The sublime for Burke is what one can observe in a large-scale storm in the ocean or the view from a very high mountain. In front of such a view man is shrunken, perhaps even slightly humiliated, in contrast to the service of
everyday life and small needs.

Some ideas about journalism
At first glance, journalism does not deal with the aesthetic or
the sublime. It was not created simply by the independent creative genius, on the contrary – unlike all arts, perhaps with the exception of the most modern – such as cinema, for example, it was made entirely of technology, from printing in the 15th century to the telegraph and the Internet of the 19th and 20th centuries.
Its main function is to transmit information, to entertain. In most cases, it is bound by the need for profit and even in the defense of very strict interests or ideological framework.
But can’t the same be said for almost every art? Dostoevsky does not write his novels simply out of a desire to express himself, he literally survives with them. “The Gambler” was dictated by him to his young wife Anna Grigorievna for 26 days with the purpose of saving the rights to his other books from the publisher. Eisenstein dedicates the work of his life in the montage to protect the justly shed blood of the revolution. Religious art in a 5-story European gallery with security will take at least 3 of them, I don’t even need to share more.
And what can be said about the modern world, when ideology is so permeated in postmodernism, that work that does not shock the ecological, sexual, and political catastrophe and tyranny of humanity can hardly even qualify for art?
At first glance, journalism is closer to science or even craftsmanship. It is strongly bound to the Enlightenment ideal and professes empirical truth. At least in theory investigative journalism or journalistic investigation is very difficult
differ from science – it uses empirical methods to collect
information, careful monitoring, use of various sources of
information and skepticism about the formation and proof of a hypothesis.

Journalism and its essence
But the similarities stop there. Like art, journalism is strongly influenced by individual muse. It can be creative and strictly individual. Truman
Hoods with “In Cold Blood” – a book that documents a brutal murder in
the United States, in his own words, is categorized as a “non-fiction novel” – a work that runs the fine line between journalism and fiction,
where many other strong examples such as Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem.
Photojournalism is more than anything a good example of creating works that can fully satisfy the senses and bring aesthetic pleasure.
The 1946 “Kiss” between a sailor and a nurse, the Afghan girl
National Geographic or Marilyn Monroe in a white dress running over a mine in New York
– these are not just pathetic examples of popular culture, these are aesthetic peaks of photojournalism.

Even when it’s not necessarily the friendliest to the senses, the stories it is able to tell have aesthetic qualities that can attract the attention
of millions, to stop or start wars. Tiananmen’s “Tank man” 1989, the raising of the American flag over Ivo Jima, the Hindenburg crash, September 11, even war crimes have become notorious for their incredible shots.

And here we come to perhaps the most important function of journalism as art in our days. Although the prevailing sentiment towards the news these days is that they are too negative, in fact, modern culture is an extremely curious way of approaching classical understanding about journalism. For the ancient Greeks, tragedy was
an extremely valuable genre that has nurtured the necessary humility and awareness of the possibilities of human hubris to bring destruction – or of human inability to overcome forces beyond all control and understanding.

With the withdrawal of religion in most developed industrial societies, the need for the sublime – in Burke’s sense, to some extent it can be said to be substituted namely from journalism. This is precisely the genre that is most capable to reveal truths that go beyond any understanding – economic cataclysms, political upheavals, environmental catastrophes. And with this achievement, modern journalism comes closest to being art – a copy of the copy, like a lens to living life.

Dialogue on fundamental human rights

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Last Friday, November 13, 2020, an online conference on fundamental human rights was held, organized by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights. Around 150 people were allowed to participate freely, who were able to address issues, which have an impact directly on their daily lives.

The person on the Agency’s side who was giving answers to the questions was Michael O’Flaherty, its director.

The main points of reference for this conference were the following:

  • Lack of equipment and internet to have equal access to education – COVID-19 forced educational systems in Europe to adopt online methods of education – online classrooms, assignments, and homework. This resulted in a problem because each student needs to have access to the Internet or a device that is suitable for attending online classes, which is almost impossible. The differences between the social groups is felt and seen much more due to inequality in terms of financial opportunity to have the needed equipment and environment for online learning. The main point of reference was the need for a fair education that meets the interests of all students.
  • The topic of decision-making was a focus on the conference. To be more accurate – the decision-makers should include the group for which they are talking about in the conversation, so the decisions which are taken afterward are needed and precise. Young people and government coming together – this is an approach based on young people’s rights and equality, continuity. By using research, the essence of a given affected group can be extracted so that those who are stakeholders can resolve the issues in the best way possible.
  • Another problem that was presented by the participants was fake news and lack of transparency in the dissemination of information. Digital literacy has been raised as a key to stopping hate speech online – a public need and a fundamental right (distinguishing fake from real and quality news).
  • The LGBTIQ + community was also widely discussed, as it is very often discriminated against and excluded from various normative acts and rights, which are otherwise a standard for equality and democracy in heterosexual entities. Example: the possibility of same-sex marriage, which automatically excludes inheritance after a sudden death, where the partner is not mentioned in the will or that 1 child has 2 parents with the same gender, and etc. The best solution to this problem is ​​introducing a class in the school related to different sexual orientations so that everyone who is not heterosexual is perceived as the plane of others and as a normal part of society, not as a problem. The younger a person is, the more tolerant he is to the differences. Hatred builds up over time, and the main role has the environment in which one develops.
  • From this, we continue to the next problem, which is structural racism. Here we are talking about religion, skin color, and etc. Representatives of Muslim society shared their experience in the presence of racism when wearing a burqa. They shared that it often happens that they do not want to leave their home because they are being laughed at or because other people avoid them. The examples were from Austria, but there are many other countries in the European Union where the same phenomenon can be observed. We need to recognize racism in us and get rid of it – this is the first step (the personal one). Society is a problem – you do it with people (the object of racism), not for people.
  • Fighting antagonism – The EU must stop building walls, it must start listening to the voices of young people.
  • For many women – home is not a safe place – increase in domestic violence, 1 in 3 women victims – Be it at home or other forms of violence
  • Another important thing in the discussion was for the EU to ban unpaid internships and introduce a minimum wage threshold for interns. The problem with unpaid traineeships comes from the fact that people with little financial support want to seek and gain experience, it is not possible to go to unpaid traineeships, as this often means that they have to live in a new place and do not have the minimum profit to cover the cost of living. In the modern world, the private sector wants the candidate fo to have previous experience in the field of work, but this is nearly impossible if you do not attend somewhere as a trainee/intern.


European values for the future for SEE region

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The pandemic made 2020, the year in which forced many people to sit at home, it was a short end of the hectic daily life, whole cities were left desolate. Some businesses closed, others moved to work from home, and others were on the front lines.

This gave people the opportunity to look at their everyday life and ask themselves what they can do better and how they can get out of the situation. Innovative methods have been invented to keep people socially connected like online discos, transparent masks, shaking hands, which is actually touching the elbow and others in order not to completely lose connection, which is part of nonverbal communication – after all, the man is a social individual and this favors his existence.

This being said, the emphasis was on online events, training, and meetings through platforms such as Google meet & Zoom, which made communication easier. In the past few days, from November 5 to 10, an International Youth Conference was held for the 18th consecutive year, with the working title “European values for the future for SEE region”.

The conference, although online, managed to unite the participants, and all the time they interacted with each other, actively asking questions. The online environment did not stop the people commit to the process, in reality, the opposite happened – they were even more motivated. This proved that when you do something that is important to you and you believe in the idea that you are the key to the improvement of the environment, physical distance does not matter.

The event focussed on topics, which are in favor of young people – education, the effects of the virus – to the economy and to the society, mental health and health care, racism and discrimination, fundamental human rights and EU values, cross-border cooperation, sustainability, and green economy, youth participation and last but not least employment and living standards.

Discussions revealed common problems that participants found to be valid in most of the countries. For this reason, the working groups, which were organized on days 4 and 5 from the conference, developed recommendations for dealing with each of them.

You can find the conference file attached to this article –

Civil activism in Bulgaria from the perspective of the youth in the Roma community

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Usually, issues related to the Roma community are overlooked or discussed only in a negative aspect. For the socially active young people from this community, even less is said.

Beyond stereotypes and familiar headings in the media, there are active young people who contribute to their communities and society. These young people are in every area of ​​our society. Some of them remain invisible, while others are known only in their bubble of people and organizations.

They remain invisible for two reasons. The first, superimposed in society, with years, stereotypes, and hate speech. As a result, it is much easier to focus on the negative examples in the community. Although such exist everywhere.

The second reason is the choice to hide their Roma origin. Those are people who do not want to identify with the Roma community and hide their ethnic background. It is very likely that you know a person in your social circle who simply does not state this. Unfortunately, the motives of these people are caused by the first reason. It is difficult to face stereotypes and negativism in society.

Fortunately, there are many young people who are not ashamed of their identity and dare to change attitudes and stereotypes. Such a person is Evelina Dimitrova from the village of Galiche, Bulgaria, a girl who initiated the establishment of an association to work for the benefit of the citizens, in the village where she lives. “Roden Dvor” Association was established in order to develop cultural and youth activities in the village, engaging the local community.

The civic contribution of young and active Roma most often occurs in non-governmental organizations. They are the main motivation that helps and encourages young people to be active, not only in their communities but also in society.

One of these organizations is the Largo Association. It is located in the Roma neighborhood of Kyustendil, Bulgaria. Roma young people who are involved in the association, help in the development and creation of active citizens in the neighborhood and between their peers.

One thing is for sure – the young Roma community is part of society and will become more visible. There are active young people, but there are no national policies for the inclusion and meaningful participation of young people who can change their communities and be role models.

The Roma community in Bulgaria does not have adequate political representation. There are no Roma youth organizations to promote youth participation in the political environment. I hope that we have yet to see politically active youth.

The only platform that stimulates youth participation by engaging young Roma representatives is the Permanent Roma Conference, which actively works with the Roma community in a number of cities, focusing on building the capacity of active young people. They have initiatives to stimulate voting among young people, to take positions on certain issues, to initiate petitions on issues concerning this ethnic group, and to consolidate the community into a common Roma movement.

What can be done to provide a better environment for development and communication between different communities is mutual support and common activities. That is why we need cooperation between the different organizations in Bulgaria. This leads to knowing each other, to more visibility and to awareness of the other’s problems.

Working with a focus in just one place is not a bad thing, but at some point, you have to get out of that bubble. A few years ago, I myself dared to go beyond the “Roma bubble” and this is one of the best decisions I have made. I realized that the different communities, among themselves, do not know each other and do not communicate enough. And there is something to learn from each other.

I really want to learn to communicate with each other. Communication – in every sense of the word. This is how common values ​​are understood and common ones are built. In this way, we will learn to talk about the problems that exist and find solutions together.

The history of debates in Bulgaria

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Political debates are one of the most important tools for effective democracy. Popular since ancient Greece, they help the viewer make more informed choices about a country’s political future. They also encourage candidates to focus on key issues for voters, as well as their problems and needs. Moreover, this type of discussion encourages political tolerance and constructive dialogue. Debating helps candidates to present their political campaigns and action plan in more detail during their term.

An interesting fact is that conducting this type of debate helps to reduce political tensions. Debates give political rivals a chance to show that, despite their differences, they can treat each other with respect, even if there is disagreement over their proposed policies and views. Of course, there are always exceptions, and debates can be transformed into a series of remarks exchanged about the personal qualities of the speakers, not their arguments and ideas. However, debates provide an opportunity for candidates to engage publicly in resolving conflicts between certain political forces and views. Conducting political debates shows and informs citizens about the policies and ambitions of a candidate, which may be unrealistic and/or harmful to society.

During the debate, each candidate can make a statement, state their policy objectives, and make promises that become part of the public archives. Once the successful candidates take office, civic groups and the media have the right to hold them accountable by quoting their statements and covering them in the press. This is why the debate is of great importance to voters. Only during a debate do candidates gather in the same place and present the reasons that prove why they are the most suitable for the position. At the same time, voters have the opportunity to learn more about their policies and compare them directly.

In many countries, such as the United States, voters base much of their decision on what they see in political debates. It is important for society how the candidates deal with the issues. The tradition of political debate in the United States protects against attempts to manipulate politicians who seek to win the favor of the masses by trying to campaign voters with empty or unrealistic promises and a personal goal of power. They are also important because they develop critical thinking of society. Political scientists believe that insofar as the debate is important from the point of view of persuasion, the debate can also be useful for the contender, about whom the public knows less or does not consider a favorite in the race. In this sense, it is no coincidence that the debates in 2016 in the United States played a major role in presenting the candidates and especially the then pioneer in the political race – Donald Trump.

There is a positive development of the debates in our country. For lovers of this art, weekly debates are held – the so-called “Panorama” on BNT. Traditionally, no political debates are organized during elections in Bulgaria. Candidates for the position hold rallies and meetings with the population in the cities. In most cases, there is no direct clash between opponents. Here comes the problem for the citizen who has to make his choice. When he cannot compare candidates, does not have critical thinking, and is not sufficiently informed, he cannot make good choices for himself and society. However, this has not been the case in recent years, as (probably under the influence of the American model) national televisions have been conducting political debates between major opponents. Organizing political debates during elections enables society to be objective, better informed, and effective in solving its problems. On the other hand, the debate presupposes opponents to present their campaign and ambitions in more detail. This is why political debates are increasingly seen as a benchmark for a healthy democracy. Citizens see the debate as an indicator of an open, transparent electoral process in which all candidates can compete equally.

Outside the realm of the political front, the art of debate is evolving even more. Thanks to the activities of youth organizations such as the Debate Association Bulgaria and the Best Foundation, pupils, and students all over the country increasingly have the opportunity to participate in competitions and trainings on debates or public discussions on socially significant issues. Probable proof of the improvement of the quality of the debates is the better performance of the National Debate Team, as well as the reaching of Bulgarian teams to the finals of competitions at universities such as Oxford. For this reason, we can conclude that political debates, as well as youth competitive debates, have a basis for development in Bulgaria should be supported and encouraged.

If the article arouses interest, you can visit the website of the Debate Association Bulgaria and learn about the art of leading a debate.

Link to the website:

Youth spaces: Hub-a

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What is Hub- a?

One of the meanings of the name “Hub-a” is a central part of a wheel, rotating on or with the axis in which its spokes are connected. Simply put, a hub is called the center of a round object. What a short name, and with so much symbolism.

The initiative to create the only open space of its kind in the town of Samokov, called “Hub-a“, was taken by Georgi Nikolov and began as a concept for creating a space that accumulates ideas. This youth space should be the Center of intersections and interests of youth views and creativity. A space in which all young people, with an alternative to the general status quo thinking, can form their realities and create their own artifacts.

How does this space contribute to the development of the local community?

The presence of such a place is of great importance for both small and large communities. This is a prerequisite for building communities and modern society, allowing young people to participate in events and initiatives at the local level, to create and organize such, to spend their free time in a meaningful way, to realize their ideas, to be active citizens, and sometimes they can be involved in local government decisions on youth policies. At the same time, building such spaces is a kind of social entrepreneurship that can become a sustainable model that creates social change, deepens young people’s understanding of the world around them, and inspires them to create a vision of how passion and their desire for realization correspond to self-employment.

How does this youth space work?

Hub-a started by cooperating with local institutions and organizing joint initiatives with them in favor of enriching the lives of youth communities through culture and art and creating equal opportunities for youth participation in festivals, urban development, media formats, social, educational, environmental, sports, and charitable initiatives.

The atmosphere of the place is casual and friendly, open to all, both young people and youth workers, supporting their planned activities. According to the symbolism of the wheel, in “Hub-a” everything moves, changes, and adapts according to the respective needs. Multifunctional design is an essential part of creating an “open” space in the physical aspect, and the movement in it – its existence.

The cultural calendar of the “Hub” includes events of various kinds and provides an opportunity for young people from the “small town” to feel equal with the event opportunities of the “big city”. Guests of the “Hub” are famous musicians and groups, contemporary artists, athletes, entrepreneurs, vloggers, experts in various fields.

What makes this place unique compared to other youth spaces in the country?

The “Hub-a” also hosts а YouTube channel for alternative professions and music “Groovy office“, which is a kind of synthesis of its activities, uniting in a video material the cultural messages to the public. The process of filming is long and provides an opportunity for the inclusion of young people who want to develop their technical competencies in the field of cinema and sound. “Groovy office” is already a recognizable format at national level, over time it is gaining more and more popularity and fans and leaves in time the meaning and appeal to young people – to follow their ideas and bring them to life.

And for young people who are open to engaging in open spaces, the benefits of this activity are again very spectral. They have to develop their competencies, communication, and organizational skills, to actively participate in social processes and phenomena, to communicate with different cultures and subcultures, to strengthen creative values, to develop their ability to interact with authorities and institutions, and the ability to influence the local reality.

And what is the normative mechanism through which to realize open youth spaces?

One of the most appropriate ways is by establishing or cooperating with a non-governmental organization – an NGO. At present, the spheres of activity of non-governmental organizations cover a wide range of social development – ecology and environmental protection, health care, social, economic, and educational activities, development of culture and arts. NGOs represent the interests of citizens in relation to local policies. They are key to identifying local needs. That is why the achievement of sustainable cooperation between NGOs and local authorities, the organization of joint initiatives is for the benefit of citizens and leads to the solution of issues of importance for the community.

[av_team_member name=’Genka Katsarska’ job=’Author’ src=” attachment=” attachment_size=” image_width=” description=’Events manager’ font_color=” custom_title=” custom_content=” av_uid=’av-kgkfyzje’ admin_preview_bg=”][/av_team_member]

Formal and non-formal education in Bulgaria

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[av_heading tag=’h3′ padding=’10’ heading=’Formal and Non – formal education ‘ color=’custom-color-heading’ style=” custom_font=’#1A0E3F’ size=” subheading_active=” subheading_size=’15’ custom_class=” admin_preview_bg=” av-desktop-hide=” av-medium-hide=” av-small-hide=” av-mini-hide=” av-medium-font-size-title=” av-small-font-size-title=” av-mini-font-size-title=” av-medium-font-size=” av-small-font-size=” av-mini-font-size=” margin=”][/av_heading]

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Long-term and deep learning includes breaking down, connecting ideas, and building connections between previous and new knowledge, developing independence and critical thinking, and the opportunity to apply knowledge in new and different contexts. With education is offered a process of acquiring general knowledge, development of thinking skills, assessment, or in other words intellectual preparation of the learner for a full life.

General education is formal education. This consists of a hierarchically structured and chronologically follow-up educational program studied from primary school to university. Formal education depends on academic research and the variety of specialized programs and courses that aim at comprehensive vocational training and personal development.

Further education is non-formal education. This type of education is usually used outside the formal education system with the main goal of developing the knowledge, skills, and attitudes of participants that they need for everyday life and/or in a certain type of field; as a type of learning model, it is considered more flexible and oriented to the needs, opportunities and interests in learning.


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Table 1: Models of formal and non-formal learning

[av_table purpose=’tabular’ pricing_table_design=’avia_pricing_minimal’ pricing_hidden_cells=” caption=” responsive_styling=’avia_responsive_table’ av_uid=’av-225dm’]
[av_row row_style=’avia-heading-row’ av_uid=’av-5izz6a’][av_cell col_style=” av_uid=’av-5em6ma’][/av_cell][av_cell col_style=” av_uid=’av-55g7re’]Formal education[/av_cell][av_cell col_style=” av_uid=’av-52ria2′]Non- formal education[/av_cell][/av_row]
[av_row row_style=” av_uid=’av-4yhnp6′][av_cell col_style=” av_uid=’av-h893m’]Goal[/av_cell][av_cell col_style=” av_uid=’av-gk51m’]* A long-term and common (overall) goal that a state is obliged to provide to its citizens for the normal course of their lives.

* Compulsory and certified training in accredited institutions.[/av_cell][av_cell col_style=” av_uid=’av-4derhe’]* Short-term and specific goal, compensating for gaps in the goals of formal education.

* Acquisition of competencies for a shorter period of time, regardless of their certification.

* What follows is market demand and the needs that gaps in formal education create for citizens.[/av_cell][/av_row]
[av_row row_style=” av_uid=’av-48bgpu’][av_cell col_style=” av_uid=’av-404k7e’]Timeframe[/av_cell][av_cell col_style=” av_uid=’av-3xrn3u’]* Long-term training cycle with mandatory and optional training stages.

* Divided into age educational stages.[/av_cell][av_cell col_style=” av_uid=’av-djxze’]* Short training cycle with often repetitive short-term and intensive learning.

* It can be fragmented over time and does not depend on age.[/av_cell][/av_row]
[av_row row_style=” av_uid=’av-3knrga’][av_cell col_style=” av_uid=’av-3f436i’]Content[/av_cell][av_cell col_style=” av_uid=’av-37kuiq’]* Standardized and concentrated around common to all criteria.

* Academically.

* The level determines who the students will be in the group.

* There are entry requirements at each stage set by the state.[/av_cell][av_cell col_style=” av_uid=’av-30m9oq’]* Individualized and result oriented.

* Practical – concentrated around a certain knowledge, skill or attitude.

* Follows the interests / needs / of the learner.

* Allows for a short time to absorb a large amount of knowledge.

* There are no entrance requirements, except for those set by a trainer and a trainee.[/av_cell][/av_row]
[av_row row_style=” av_uid=’av-2y720y’][av_cell col_style=” av_uid=’av-2r6f4a’]Transmission method (system)
[/av_cell][av_cell col_style=” av_uid=’av-2jvk5m’]* Institutionally based; often isolated from the real environment and the community.

* Clear structure in the same group of students.

* Standardized.

* Centered around the teacher’s abilities.

* Specific resources are used.[/av_cell][av_cell col_style=” av_uid=’av-2gsg5m’]* Based on the environment and the community as resources.

* Flexible and with different random groups of learners.

* It follows principles such as:

1. Experiential learning;
2. Value-based training;
3. The group as a learning resource;
4. Secure learning environment;
5. Active and voluntary participation.[/av_cell][/av_row]
[av_row row_style=” av_uid=’av-290p62′][av_cell col_style=” av_uid=’av-22l04a’]Control[/av_cell][av_cell col_style=” av_uid=’av-1veh0q’]* External to the learner (imposed) and hierarchical.

* In line with international models such as PISA.

* Based on teacher accreditation systems.[/av_cell][av_cell col_style=” av_uid=’av-1tbnci’]* Self-government and Democracy.

* Feedback from the learner and his community.

* Voluntary participation of the learner and the trainer.

* Verification of skills outside the formal system.[/av_cell][/av_row]
[av_row row_style=” av_uid=’av-1kfbpm’][av_cell col_style=” av_uid=’av-4ufpu’]Who is it suitable for?
[/av_cell][av_cell col_style=” av_uid=’av-19bc0q’]* Any age.

* Mandatory up to 16 years.[/av_cell][av_cell col_style=” av_uid=’av-15hcfe’]* Any age, depending on the attitude of the learner – lifelong learning.

* The only option for older people who have already left the educational system[/av_cell][/av_row]
[av_row row_style=” av_uid=’av-ybi0q’][av_cell col_style=” av_uid=’av-2gxsa’]Who delivers it?
[/av_cell][av_cell col_style=” av_uid=’av-2afzm’]* Certified and institutionalized schools.

* Vocational training centers[/av_cell][av_cell col_style=” av_uid=’av-ejgj6′]* Non- governmental organizations – NGOs

* Youth centers (spaces) and community centers.

* Non-certified suppliers[/av_cell][/av_row]

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How do formal and non-formal education help learning?

Success in today’s global economy relies on our adaptation to an ever-changing environment. This requires us to focus on the processing of variable knowledge: finding information, understanding it, thinking about knowledge, using it in context and creating new one as well as new skills and attitudes. Formal education relies mostly on understanding and a little on skills, but less on attitudes. Non-formal education takes place mostly outside institutionalized schools, giving learning (holistic and integrated in the individual) completeness.

Non-formal education allows to pay more attention to the individual needs of the learner, as well as a wider field for practical training and further development of competencies, accumulating in a formal environment. It helps to build communities of interest, to develop emotional intelligence and to take responsibility for the personal process of self-improvement, building attitudes in the long run. Voluntary participation, the development of decision-making skills and the building of social connections lead to an increase in the self-confidence of the participants, and hence their overall educational performance.

Is there a legal framework? Is there a need for one?

Bulgaria ranks last in the European Union in terms of overall results of students up to 15 years old of the international PISA test conducted by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Following the latest data from PISA for Bulgaria, we can conclude that in Bulgaria we need, in addition to improving policies, developing formal education, and certification of non-formal education, which in combination with formal education leads to a more literate, more developed and successful society. Last but not least, attention should be paid to non-formal education providers – their professional training and opportunities to provide quality service, because such regulation does not currently exist.

School student participation

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 School student participation – What is it?

  • School student participation is any form of participation and event organizing by students, most often at school. It is implemented through student structures, and in Bulgaria, they are formally divided into 4 groups.
  • The forms of school student participation in Bulgaria are at several levels: Class- (A, B, C and etc.), Class – (5th, 6th, 7th and etc.), School and National – The Children’s Council (an advisory body to the President of the SACP)

Why does it make sense to participate in student councils and structures?

  • It is very simple, with the freedom to organize and focus independently on problems from their surrounding in school lives, students develop their social skills, teamwork, leadership skills, and most importantly – personal responsibility.
  • It gives them the opportunity to be recognized as an active and driving part of the educational process and system. This leads to an awareness of the principles and rules in their small society and keeps them awake to the changes that directly affect them. As a major stakeholder in the decision-making processes, this makes them objective and encourages them to make their environment better, not worse.
  • Student participation stimulates students’ self-initiative. It makes them flexible and ready for life after school – they know the mechanisms for participation. This is what allows them to be “decision-makers” in a certain school community.

What opportunities and responsibilities does participation in a student council provide?

  • By law, the representatives in the student council have the right to an advisory vote in the work of the public council of the schools. – Chapter 14 “Public Councils”, Art. 267
  • They can participate in the discussion in resolving issues affecting school life and the school community, including the school curriculum. – Section 1, Article 171,  subparagraph 11
  • Makes proposals to the principal and the pedagogical council regarding the ways of using the rights of the students;
  • Motivates students to actively participate in the decision-making process concerning school life and the student community;
  • Participates in the development of school rules;
  • Mediates in solving problems related to the timetable and course of the learning process or extracurricular activities;
  • Supports the activities/events of all 3 levels of school structures;
  • Works on projects with other students, teachers, school educational authority, and parents

Are there any regulations for student councils?

The short answer: Yes, there is!

  • You can find the legal framework in the Law on Preschool and School Education and Regulation № 13, dated 21.09.2016 on civic, health, environmental and intercultural education.

Why is it a first step?

  • When a student is actively involved in his school and wants to follow the example of his active and motivated friends, to develop his knowledge as a citizen and participant in voluntary non-formal and informal education – this is the first step towards self-driven decision to take responsibility, this is the first a step towards building him/her as a committed representative of society and an engine of change.