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April 2007, 13/04/2007

Dear Valued Stara Planina Properties Client,

After the Easter holidays and on this fatalistic Friday, the 13th here is the April issue of our newsletter. We hope you will find the property news and alerts and the information on the Bulgarian education system of interest.

Education in Bulgaria

For many people buying property in Bulgaria the country is now their home and indeed home for the whole family including the children. It is important to understand the education system and how it works.

Bulgarians took great pride in the international reputation of their education system which although perhaps traditional in teaching style generally delivered excellent results. After the collapse of communism there was a lack of funding for education (as with many state institutions) and standards fell. However in recent years there are signs that the system is starting to pick up again. As in many countries around the world the teaching staff are skilled and dedicated but underpaid. What is important is that Bulgarian parents place a high value on education and this passion is fed through to the children. For those parents who might be concerned with the state provision they always have the option of spending more money on private education or international schools however on balance most people feel greater benefits in seeing their children integrating as much as possible with local children.

Schooling is compulsory between the ages of 6 till 18 and there are three levels of education in Bulgaria:

Nursery. This is for toddlers from as young as 1 year old through to 3. The fees are typically around 15 euros per month in the municipal nurseries.

Kindergartens. This is for children aged from about 3 till 6. It is not so much as a formal education but an environment in which kids play together. Food is included and the children will have a short nap after lunch. The state run kindergartens are very cheap costing little more than 15 euros per month. Presently these institutions are heavily oversubscribed and one should apply at least a year in advance. There are private kindergartens which are better equipped and offer additional services such as bus to take the kids from home to the kindergarten or foreign language classes.

Pre-School. This is a one-year programme aimed at preparing children at the end of kindergarten (around the age of 6) for entry into the schooling environment. The pre-school class is obligatory and children spend more time in a lesson format to familiarize themselves with the idea of learning in a group with a teacher. Both schools and kindergartens have pre-school groups however the children would spend just half day in the school whilst the kindergartens would organise a full day training.

Primary School. Children from 7 till 10 attend these schools. They are taught basic skills – reading, writing and grammer, mathematics, humanities and basics of sciences as well as one foreign language from the age of 9. These are free but parents are expected to provide all the books and pay for food. In most schools kids spend half day in the school and have half day every day to prepare their lessons at home so there has to be someone to look after them in the afternoons.

Secondary Schools. Children attend from 11 years onwards till 14. They are taught a broad range of classes covering languages, humanities and the sciences. Parents again are expected to provide all the books.

High Schools from 12 years till leaving age of 18/19. In Bulgaria at this level pupils have the opportunity to attend specialist schools that provide education in certain fields such as mathematics, languages, economics and so forth. These specialist schools have a better reputation than the normal secondary schools and there is a strict attendance requirements usually secured by passing entry exams. In addition there are schools which train the teenagers in vocational skills however the quality of those has worsen since the 1980s.

Most schools operate two shifts a day one starting in the morning and finishing at lunchtime the other starts after lunch through till the late afternoon. School uniforms are rarely worn (except in some private schools). Discipline in schools is more evident in Bulgaria than other European countries.

As mentioned above there are a growing number of private education facilities in Bulgaria (and some private universities) found mainly in the larger cities. The schools have excellent facilities and produce higher results but they come at a cost.

University Education. Perhaps the weakest level of education in Bulgaria. You can study the full range of degrees at university starting at the undergraduate level through to Doctorate. Certain universities are know for certain specialisms so languages are strongest in Sofia and Veliko Turnovo, Marine Engineering in Varna, Stara Zagora for veterinary science and so forth. As a foreigner (and if you do not speak Bulgarian) you will be expected to attend a one year foundation course in Bulgarian before being admitted to the state universities.

Unfortunately special needs education in Bulgaria is very poor at present although one can expect that it will improve.

GeshaView - Exclusive Homes in an Exceptional Location

What is so special about GeshaView? Using the word 'view' in the name of the development is not just a marketing trick - it represents the key value of the project. The development is perched on a hill which offers spectacular views across to the Stara Planina Mountain range. Apart from the wonderful setting and the views the development is about authentisity and quality.

The Gatehouse represents the concept of the development. The inspiration behind the Gatehouse was developer's drive to restore and not to replace. A once derelict structure, abandoned and in serious danger of collapse has been restored to its iconic status. The Gatehouse is now open for viewing. It is a prime example of the build quality and finish that will be delivered in all the properties.

One of the most important principles of the project is to provide the highest quality of build, ensuring that the properties provide excellent potential for long term capital appreciation. We believe that people purchasing properties off plan should not be promised a quality construction and delivered something that, in many cases, is entirely different.

Care has been taken to ensure each property has a view from which you can soak up the evening sun. The layout of the village follows the natural landscape with little disturbance to the existing surroundings. Being part of a small and unique village community, you will feel completely secure and free to enjoy life. Access by motor vehicles will be carefully controlled providing an environment that is safe for pedestrians and children as well as tranquil and peaceful.

Every GeshaView property has been specifically designed to integrate and compliment the strong principles of the concept. Architecture sympathetic of the local region allows deluxe modern living of tomorrow to blend in harmony with the simple life of yesteryear. The traditional Bulgarian exteriors mix with modern, western style interior design giving the best of both worlds.

The developer says that the GeshaView concept is to provide a well being retreat where people from all walks of life can escape everyday stresses and enjoy a slower pace of living. Whether you are enjoying a barbeque on your own private roof terrace, sampling the best local cuisine, receiving spa treatments or simply exploring the immense surrounding countryside, your time in the village will be relaxing and peaceful.

The GeshaView have won the best development award for the last 2 years. For the rental income there is an experienced letting manager appointed who is already negotiating with various travel companies and niche organisations for the 2008 season. It has also already been agreed to have the village listed with Octopus, Expedia and the travel agents global booking system.

GeshaView is situated in the heart of rural Bulgaria. It is a relaxed village community of 147 new properties, each featuring traditional Bulgarian exteriors, modern western interiors and stunning views of the surrounding area. To make sure you can stay in touch with work and home, the village has the latest in available communication technology.

In addition to the homes, this unique village development will also have a range of traditional organic restaurants and craft shops, a conference centre and a spa complex that allow residents and guests to relax and enjoy the wonderful environment that surrounds the village.

As well as an enormous number of nearby historical and cultural attractions you will also be able to experience activities such as walking, riding, mountain biking, climbing, fishing, hunting, painting, cooking & wood carving just a short distance from your new home.

GeshaView consists of a thoughtful mixture of 1 and 2 bedroom apartments, town houses and 3 or 4 bedroom luxury detached houses located in the picturesque un-spoilt Central Stara Planina region, close to the ancient capital of Veliko Tarnovo.

Please contact us for more information on the project and availabile properties.

Bulgaria Becomes More Popular for Congress Tourism

It was recently reported by officials that congress tourism revenue in Bulgaria went up by 25 per cent over the past three years. The statistics are based on the performance of the four main congress centres – the National Palace of Culture and Inter Expo Centre in Sofia, the Plovdiv Fair and the Festival and Congress Centre in Varna. Thus it is estimated that the growth was even higher as there are other conference facilities in resort and urban areas.

The Campaign for the Bulgarian Nurses in Libya Continues; George Michael Coming to Bulgaria to Show Support

The pop music idol George Michael will have a concert in Bulgaria on 28 May. He will perform in support of the campaign for the five Bulgarian nurses sentenced to death for intentional HIV infection in Libya. Organisers of the concert said that Michael cancelled already announced concert in Germany to support the nurses.
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