Welcome Address Markus Repnik
Excellencies, distinguished guest, dear colleagues,
Please let me extend a very warm welcome to all of you.
Great that we are together today, because what brings us together is a critically important topic – education.
What brings us together today is also a topic with a shared objective. Those of us who have kids, we all want good education for our children. And well educated people are the driving force for economic growth - this is what the Government wants, this is what all citizens want.
So, if we agree that education sector reform is a critically important topic, and if we agree that we have a shared objective, namely to further improve education, the important question is: where does Bulgaria’s education system stand today, what have been the achievements over the recent years, and what are the challenges ahead?
I am very proud that the World Bank is providing a contribution to answer this question with today’s round-table discussion and the publication of the report A review of the Bulgaria School Autonomy Reforms.
Please let me summarize the findings of the report in one sentence: major recent achievements in terms of efficiency, but challenges ahead related to quality, equity and accountability for results.
First, efficiency: The sweeping education decentralization reform introduced in 2007 - to promote greater local autonomy and more efficient public spending - produced impressive efficiency gains.
Second, quality: There is yet no conclusive evidence that reforms improved learning outcomes. The results of the 2009 international student assessment will be published at the end of this year. These results will allow assessing if and how quality has improved since 2006.
Third, equity: Students from poorer families and minorities perform worse in academic achievement tests. The challenge is clear – how to ensure that students from minorities and less well-off families achieve better learning outcomes.
Fourth, accountability for results: Bulgaria has made great strides in promoting school autonomy. However, accountability needs to be further strengthened – with parents, communities, municipalities and school principals playing a crucially important role.
The final value of today’s discussion and the report will be judged by how the findings and recommendations are of help to the Government – and how they further guide education sector reform in the light of the proposed new School Education Act.
Today’s round-table discussion greatly benefits from your participation, and I would like to thank all of you for your time and commitment to the cause of education.
The student on the cover of the report has a difficult equation to solve. He is looking for a solution. I am sure that all of you here today can help this student by finding a solution to the overarching equation: how to transform education efficiency into measurable improvements in education quality and equity.
Thank you very much for being with us today.