In the towns there are a few teachers who give private instruction in foreign languages; but there may fairly be said to be no private schools. It follows that the whole education of the country is practically provided by the State schools. Americans are proud, and very justly proud, of their common school system; but as the United States have grown in wealth, and as the social distinctions which accompany wealth have developed in the Republic of the West, the children of well-to-do Americans are brought up more and more in private schools. Probably the same change will occur in Bulgaria when the same causes begin to operate. For the present, however, and for many years to come, the whole population of Bulgaria must be educated in the State schools. The children of professional men, tradesmen, and peasants receive exactly the same education, in the same schools, and pass their j’ears of learning sitting on the same benches, studying the same lessons, and playing the same games. This system must tend to perpetuate the absolute equality between all classes which now prevails in Bulgaria to a far greater extent than in the United States, or indeed in any civilized community I have ever heard of, either in the Old World or the New.
The public schools of Philippopolis
Some years ago, when I was travelling in America, I was always invited, by any acquaintances I might have in the towns I visited, to visit their cemetery and their common school. Happily the sort of ghoulish taste for graveyards, which is so universal amidst the Transatlantic branch of the Anglo-Saxon race, does not prevail in Bulgaria; and I fancy that the popular Bulgarian sentiment on the subject of burial-grounds very closely resembles that of the Moslem, namely, that a cemetery is a resort for the dead and not for the living. Anyhow in Bulgaria I never found myself expected to visit the cemeteries, but I was everywhere solicited to visit the educational establishments. The public schools of Philippopolis, of which I saw most, are reckoned some of the best in Bulgaria; and if, as I was assured by competent judges, they are fair specimens of the general run of the high schools throughout the country, the Bulgarians are certainly to be congratulated on the success of their scholastic experiment. The boys school is located in a very spacious, handsome building, which was built for the purpose at a cost of some 20,000, and which, in respect of class-rooms, galleries, and lecture-halls, is admirably adapted for the objects of an educational institution. The whole building was scrupulously clean; the rooms were well ventilated, cheerful, and commodious. There are six classes in the school, and each pupil is expected to rise from a lower to an upper class during each year of his sexennial curriculum. If he fails to qualify himself for the class next above his own during two successive years he is dismissed from the school as incapable of learning. The hours of study are from eight in the morning to midday, and from two to four in the afternoon. If, however, the parents can show valid cause for requiring the services of their children at home, the pupils are excused from afternoon attendance. The summer holidays are so arranged as to cover the period of the harvest, and thus to enable the boys to assist in the chief farming operations of the year.