The School, Community Center – Mission Possible

The National Network for Children develops on purpose community school model for the first time in Bulgaria

School to be an opened and multifunctional center, which creates, supports and connects the community of pupils, teachers, parents and other participants in the community live of a particular populated area. This is the aim of National Network for Children’s new project “The school as a community center”, which will start in the beginning of February.

Its participants were announced on an event, which was held in the Hall of French institute in Bulgaria. A special part of it was the public speech of Chris Jones, an international expert in the creation and development of community schools. She told in it that the community school model has been applied in 55 countries worldwide. In her words the pupils of 21st century have to be competitive, creative, enterprising, cable to adapt to new cultures, able to make informed decisions about their own health and future.

“The School development as a community is one of the way to achieve the so desired changes in the education system, to improve school environment, to actively include and to encourage to participate different partners from the community in the school live. This will contribute to the perception of the school as a place for collecting and making important for the community decisions”, Georgi Bogdanov, National Network for Children’s executive director said.

At the press conference before the event’s start, except Georgi Bogdanov and Chris Jones, statements were made by Plamena Foteva, project coordinator “The school as a community center” and Elena Fomina, executive director of “Center for community partnerships”, Krasnoyarsk, Russia. She talked about the community school model execution in the region of Siberia, what were the challenges they faced with and the crossing points in this field with Bulgaria.

The 13 schools where the project will start were appointed after a competition. It started in the beginning of October 2014 with 167 candidates from the whole country. The schools were selected in 3 stages – short questionnaires with general information about the school, the social environment, in which it acts and its vision for development; extebded questionnaires, in which the schools analyzed their progress in line with International standards for Excellence of Community Schools and presented their long term development strategy.

Independent team of external appraisers analyzed the questionnaires, fulfilled by the schools. It included the next 10 experts in the field of education and community development: Boyan Zahariev, Open Society Institute, Georgi Tsvetkov, Bulgarian Donors Forum, Emil Djassim, Educational Initiatives Center, Mariana Bancheva, Progressive Education Institute, Mariana Georgieva, independent expert, Milena Leneva, independent expert, Monika Pisankaneva, Workshop for civic initiatives foundation, Rumen Petrov, New Bulgarian University, Sylvia Nikolaeva, Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski” and Stanislava Staneva, America for Bulgaria Foundation.

At the third stage of selection National Network for Children’s team visited the schools on the spot. There interviews with pupils, teachers, directors, parents and schools’ partners were held.

Teams of the selected school will follow a 3-day intensive training with the international experts and lecturers Chris Jones and Elena Fomina. They will make analyze of the situation of their own school – weak and strong points, existing of good practices and sources. Trained consultants will support them in this task. The schools will elaborate their own plans for school development as community in line with the identified strong and weak points, possibilities and problems. Local trainings will be organized in order to prepare the transformation.


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