September 20, 2010
The Bulgarian Orthodox Church will hold a rally Friday to call for the introduction of religion as a mandatory discipline of study in Bulgarian schools.
The procession will start at 12.00 EET Friday at the National Palace of Culture in Sofia and finish at the St. Alexander Nevsky cathedral.
“With this even the Church will once again express its position in support of the necessity of introduction of a regular school subject for the spiritual and ethical education of Bulgarian children and pupils,” state church authorities.
In the past few years the debate on the introduction of religion in Bulgarian schools has been intensive. Some schools now offer religion as an optional discipline to be studied by pupils at their choice. Some have voiced the opinion that religion should become a mandatory subject in the regular state-approved school program.
There is also a debate as to how religion should be studied – from a historical-cultural perspective, giving students knowledge about the world’s religions, or from a worship/confessional perspective to help introduce youngsters to traditional religions in Bulgaria.
The idea formulated by the Bulgarian Orthodox Church stresses on the second approach, with pupils in primary schools learning about the religion to which they traditionally belong, e.g. Orthodox or Catholic Christianity, or Islam, and then pupils in high school learning about the religions in Bulgaria different from their own.
Church representatives have commented that they see that the number of pupils choosing to study religion as an optional subject is insufficient.
Minister of Education Sergey Ignatov has vowed to hold a public discussion on the issue.