Speeches & Transcripts

Social Inclusion Project launch - talking points of Markus Repnik

July 23, 2010

Markus Repnik Social Inclusion Project launch Sofia, Bulgaria

As Prepared for Delivery

Dear Mr. Minister, colleagues and media representatives

It is a great pleasure to be here with you today, to have the CHANCE to be here with you today, at the launch of the Social Inclusion Project.

Yes, it is about CHANCES. I had the CHANCE to become the new World Bank country manager for Bulgaria, I had the CHANCE to get a scholarship that allowed me to go to university, and I had the CHANCE to go to school and kindergarten.

While life is about personal commitment and determination, it is also very much about CHANCES.

And this is what brings us together today.
Because the Bulgarian Government is strongly committed to give the same life CHANCES to everybody, and the World Bank - through the Social Inclusion Project - is supporting this.
Please let me take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation for this strong commitment by the Bulgarian government.

But if one wants to give the same life CHANCES to everybody, what are the most important years in life to provide these CHANCES? International research shows that it is the first years in life that are so important, the early childhood years, the years before school starts.

Therefore, the Social Inclusion Project aims at increasing school readiness of children below the age of 7, targeting low-income and marginalized families, including Roma families.

Giving people the same life CHANCES requires investments in early childhood development, providing kids, as one says here in Bulgaria, with their proper “initial seven years”.

The project will provide these proper initial seven years for the most vulnerable children through pre-school training and services - so that these kids enter school at an equal footing, allowing them to successfully progress in their later education and life.

" Ensuring equal life CHANCES for small children is not only a moral obligation, it is also important from an economic point of view.  "

Markus Repnik

Country Manager for Bulgaria

Because unequal CHANCES in early years lead to unequal CHANCES later in life with low education and little opportunities for jobs.

In Bulgaria, the working population is declining, and the share of older people is growing. The better equipped and trained young people are, the better jobs they will have, the more money they will earn - money which is needed to finance the pensions of older people.

Therefore, let’s ensure, all across Europe and in Bulgaria, that small children have equal chances to progress in life. The Social Inclusion Project aims at making a significant contribution to this. To the benefit of everybody, young and old.