The Executive Agency Operational Programme Science and Education for Smart Growth was established on November 1, 2017 by decree No. 237 of the Council of Ministers, promulgated in the State Gazette No. 86, dated 27.10.2017, for the purpose of managing the Operational Programme Science and Education for Smart Growth (OP SESG). The Executive Agency, in its capacity of Managing Authority, is responsible for the overall programming, management and implementation of the programme in accordance with the principle of sound financial management.
The Executive Agency is a second- level budget spending unit to the Ministry of Education and Science and is structured in six directorates and territorial units in 14 regional cities.
Through the implementation of the Operational Programme Science and Education for Smart Growth 2014-2020, the Executive Agency supports the reform of the pre-school and school education, as well as of the higher education, in particular by improving the correspondence between their results and the needs in the labor market and by enhancing the cooperation between education, research institutes and business.
The resources of OP SESG are concentrated in several thematic areas so that significant progress can be achieved in the systems of science and education at national level:
A. Capacity building for research and development (R&D) in the priority areas of the Innovation Strategy for Smart Specialization (IS3):
A.1. Needs at national level - increasing investment in R&D, with a focus on cutting edge science in RIS3 priority areas: • Mechatronics and clean technologies; • Informatics and ICT; • Healthy Life and Biotechnology Industry; • New technologies in the creative and recreational industries.
A.2. Institutional and individual needs - internationalization of research as well as attracting and retaining specialists in the field of research and high technology.
B. Higher education system
B.1. Needs related to the structure of the higher education system - improving the quality of education and strengthening the links with the labor market.
B.2. Needs related to the content of the educational product (knowledge and skills) - matching educational results with the needs of the labor market; introducing new forms of teaching, developing integrated and business-oriented programs.
B.3. Needs related to education service providers (trainers) - specialized programmes to improve methodological and managerial competences in higher education.
B.4. Need for widening the range of users of the educational service (acquiring higher education) - to support undergraduates with two types of scholarships - to develop professionals in priority areas aimed at solving problems in the labor market and to widen access to higher education.
C. School education, training, lifelong learning
C.1. Needs related to access to school education - in two directions: ensuring sustainability of good practices and boosting the reform to promote “inclusive education”, tailored to the individual needs of as many children as possible.
C.2. Needs related to adaptation of education to the labor market: the need for quality and applicable education, creation of a lifelong learning environment – provision of additional training for low-skilled people who have dropped out of the education system at its low levels and in the early stages of their life.
C.3. Teaching staff needs - sustainability measures and building on good practices for qualitative change in the capacity of teaching staff.
Through the implementation of the measures of the OP SESG, the Executive Agency aims to achieve two main objectives that are directly linked to the European Union's strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and to achieve economic, social and territorial cohesion:
• To be among the key instruments for achieving the objectives adopted by the Republic of Bulgaria in the framework of the Europe 2020 Strategy:
- Increasing investment in science and research up to 1.5 %;
- Reducing the rate of early school leavers to below 11 %;
- Increasing the rate of higher education graduates to 36 % of people between the ages of 30 and 34;
• To serve as an effective tool for implementing cohesion policies according to the agenda at national and Community level.