The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have launched in partnership with the Access to Rights Foundation (ARF), the Astra Forum Foundation (AAF), the Bulgarian Red Cross and the For Good Foundation called the “Welcome to School” information campaign to enroll Ukrainian children in schools in Bulgaria.
Unicef said the campaign aims to support efforts by the Bulgarian Ministry of Education and Health to provide access to education and health care.
The campaign aims to reach around 20,000 people (online and offline) and help families learn about all the benefits and peculiarities of the Bulgarian education system and be aware of the steps they should take, Unicef said.
According to the national authorities, there are more than 39,000 children from Ukraine living in Bulgaria.
“Some of them continue to study online in the Ukrainian education system, which prevents them from connecting with their peers in Bulgaria and benefiting from the additional support, language learning, participation in extracurricular activities and more Bulgarian schools,” Unicef said.
About 530 children from Ukraine were enrolled in the Bulgarian education system in the last school year.
In Varna alone, 350 applications from Ukrainian families to send their children to school have been received since the beginning of the summer. Many parents are still hesitant about what to do about their children’s education, Unicef said.
Information meetings will be held in 10 key locations in Bulgaria in Russian and Ukrainian.
ARF advocates clarify the procedures for refugees from Ukraine to register their children in the Bulgarian education system, and ARF experts clarify the health requirements for entering kindergarten and school (e.g. mandatory routine vaccinations against infectious childhood diseases).
At the end of each session there is time for questions from the parents present, who also receive printed information leaflets.
Experts from government institutions have also been invited to provide updates.
The Bulgarian Red Cross will provide additional explanations at the Blue Zone Refugee Support Centers and the For the Greater Good Foundation at their Integration Center in Sofia.
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