The intercultural environment in Bulgaria is specific due to the enhanced social role of the internal minorities, not because of the influence of emigration waves. Unlike the Schengen countries in the consortium implementing the LIFE 2 project, in which one of the results of globalization can be measured by the importation of new cultural models from outside through migration flows, or Turkey, which is strongly shaken by refugee influx, Bulgaria does not suffer from external pressure.
The intercultural environment is formed by the presence of compact and demographically growing, in comparison to the dominant Bulgarian and Orthodox communities, ethnic minorities – Roma, Turks and religious ones – Bulgarian Muslims, the so-called Pomaks. Bulgaria has a sustainable model of coexistence that manifests itself in everyday life. However,there are established models of prejudice and fear that draw distinct boundaries between majority and minorities. On a macro level, educational programs promote intercultural education -guidelines, strategies, national plans – but the main challenge here is how these national programs operate on the micro-level: at school, theplace where intercultural communication takes place.
Another challenge in the context of the Bulgarian school is how religions are taught – in the curriculum they are represented mainly through cultural and historical viewpoints. Defending the secular nature of education, the school allows the study of religions only as an elective subject, which greatly limits the teachers’ capabilities, who are obliged to conform to the wish or unwillingness of the parents and their prejudices. So, if we have to define the next challenge, it is the growing role of the parents and the need to involve them as allies.
Center for Educational Initiatives expects the LIFETWO project to offer a functional model for the transfer of good practices and encourage the creation of a teaching community that exists in an environment of confidence and tranquility.