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February 20, 2014

Homeschool Wins IT Competition; Spurs National Debate

By Radoslava Petkova

Bozhidar Marinov is a 12-year-old boy from Smolyan, Bulgaria who is homeschooled by his mother, Zlatka Marinova. He won a national information technology (IT) competition in 2013; however, his further participation in the Bulgarian IT Olympiad was thwarted by the Bulgarian Ministry of Education who declared he is “not a student,” according to their official position.

Bozhidar Marinov

Initially, his mother did not want his story to go public. But after all opportunities for Bozhidar to participate in the national IT competitions were tried and failed, she was forced to find another solution. Eventually, she was able to enroll him in USACO, the USA Computing Olympiad, which accepts international students.

Upon learning this, Peter Porumbachanov, Chairman of the Bulgarian Homeschooling Association, published an article entitled “Bulgaria commits suicide” on the future perspective of young and talented Bulgarian homeschooled children who are denied recognition in their country. Little did Porumbachanov know that this article would spark public debate in Bulgaria about homeschooling.

Several days later, Mrs. Marinova and Bozhidar were interviewed by bTV, the second most-viewed national television station in Bulgaria. Thus the topic of homeschooling hit the national media. Positive articles about the homeschooling phenomenon have now been written by several national news media:,,,,,, and more. Most of these media allow commentaries of their news articles and through comments posted, it has become obvious that public opinion is favorable toward parents who do not enroll their children in the public schools but educate them at home.

As a result of this media interest, the Bulgarian Telegraph Agency invited ADO (Association for Home Education of Bulgaria) to give a one-hour press conference, which attracted two national television networks and many radio programs and newspapers. All of the discussion about the academic advantages of homeschooling, the profile of the parents that homeschool, and the opportunities for socialization for the homeschooled children, broadcast a very positive message. Additionally, the press conference drew attention to the need for freedom of education in Bulgaria and the desire of parents to have open doors for their children to participate in the national academic competitions, such as the Bulgarian IT Olympiad, and opportunities for homeschooled students to continue their higher education in Bulgarian universities.

Below is a sampling of homeschooling articles recently highlighted in the Bulgarian media:

Bozhidar and homeschooling friends

Bulgarian Telegraph Agency press conference with ADO

“Bulgaria commits suicide,” Bulgarian Homeschooling Association, January 5, 2014

“A child that does not go to school wins IT competitions,” bTV News, January 8, 2014

“Homeschool: pros and cons,” Monitor, January 11, 2014

“Education should be compulsory, not going to public school,” Darik News

“Studying at home is not the child’s choice, neither is public school,” R. Dimitrova, film director

“Education—a right, or an obligation,” OffNews, January 13, 2014

“Is homeschooling illegal or effective,” NovaNews, January 15, 2014

“More about homeschooling,” News7, January 17, 2014

Radoslava Petkova is a member of the board of the Bulgarian Homeschool Association.

 More Information

Learn more by visiting HSLDA’s Bulgaria page.