The US Ambassador H.E. Herro Mustafa visited the Ivan Vazov Language High School in Plovdiv at the invitation of Mayor Zdravko Dimitrov to see how the first Google Reference School in Eastern Europe is developing. Her Excellency entered two 9th grade classes – in history (held in Spanish) and physics, after which the official guests had the opportunity to discuss with a group of students the benefits of cloud technology in school and project-based learning.
“Today I am here not only as an ambassador, but also in my role as a mother of two children aged 4 and 6. I am extremely impressed by what I see – awake, smart children learning with the latest technology. This is an example for Bulgaria and for the future. ” With these words Her Excellency addressed the students. Hero Mustafa added: “I congratulate the principal Vihra Eramyan, the mayor Zdravko Dimitrov, the Deputy Mayor for education Stefan Stoyanov and all teachers and students for their efforts to make a world-class school in Plovdiv.”
Mayor Zdravko Dimitrov showed Her Excellency the educational initiatives of the Municipality of Plovdiv. “The digitalization of the educational process, showed everyone the benefits of technology in education, especially in the last two years, during the pandemic, when distance learning is compulsory and necessary” he said, adding that the municipality will continue to allocate funds for these programs.
“Plovdiv schools are leaders in Eastern Europe in the introduction of cloud technologies. Our goal is to make the education system more efficient, by using the best platforms in the world. We are happy to be able to rely on partners such as Google and Microsoft to digitalize the learning process, “said Deputy Mayor for Education and Business Development Stefan Stoyanov.
In 2016 Plovdiv became the first city in Bulgaria to launch a program for digitalization of the educational process – an initiative seeking to help meet the requirements of the developing economy in the region. As a result, communication between teachers and students has improved, interactive lessons have become more interesting for children and administrative processes have been optimized. The good results led to the introduction of cloud technologies in all 52 municipal schools by 2019, which allowed them to smoothly transition to online learning during the pandemic.
The next step the Municipality took to digitalize the education process was the introduction of 1: 1 method – where each student and teacher has a personal computer and individual cloud accounts, thus working in an entirely digital environment without paper textbooks and materials. This allows children to learn anywhere and anytime, to be flexible, creative and up to date with new technologies. Thus, in 2020 EG “Ivan Vazov” became the first Google Reference School in Eastern Europe and introduced the method 1:1.
The development of cloud platforms in schools has been going on for six years now. For this particular program Municipality of Plovdiv has 5 international awards. The integration and use of modern technologies in Plovdiv’s schools is at the level of the Scandinavian countries, with Plovdiv being one of the leaders on the continent. Nearly 40% of teachers are trained, and over 90% of children over 4th grade use their cloud accounts daily in the learning process.
1: 1 is a project-based method that prepares students for the needs of the developing economy and builds in them qualities that are sought by their future employers such as critical thinking, analysis, foundamental internet culture, teamwork, creativity. The lessons are much more interesting, interactive, accessible and allow children to participate effectively in shaping the educational process.
In addition to the Ivan Vazov Language School, 13 other schools, or a total of 55 classes, work paperless, with students using personal laptops. From 2021 in Ivan Vazov the whole 8th grade (a total of 9 classes) work entirely with personal devices. The goal is to have all students move to 1:1 method learning in the next two years. For the implementation of this program, the Municipality of Plovdiv received great support from the Ministry of Education, which purchased over 80,000 e-learning devices that some of the Plovdiv schools benefited from.