“Investing in education is crucial for building a better world.” - Questers

“Investing in education is crucial for building a better world.”

An insightful interview with Petar Sharkov – co-CEO of Telerik Academy School.

Good education can have a positive social impact, particularly in shaping future generations and preparing them for a successful start in life. As a company, we believe in the transformative power of education, so through our Giving Programme, we support many incredible organisations working to improve Bulgaria's schooling system and give better opportunities for kids and students in the country.

In April, we invited Petar Sharkov, co-CEO of Telerik Academy School (TAS), to shed light on the innovative approach to technology education in Bulgaria. The Academy is the largest free IT education initiative for children in the country and we've been supporting them for 4 years now.

Petar has an important role in the management of the Academy. His experience in the field of entrepreneurship and education innovation puts him in a position to lead initiatives that inspire and empower Bulgaria's future technology leaders.

Let's have a look at Peter's perspectives on the development of TAS and its impactful journey.

1. Hello Petar! Tell us more about yourself and your professional career path.

My name is Petar Sharkov, and I am the co-CEO of Telerik Academy School, which is a leading tech-education organization for students from 3rd to 12th grade. I joined the organisation in 2017 and have been responsible for developing the long-term strategy of Telerik Academy School as well as managing key partnerships with educational institutions, businesses and communities. Prior to joining the academy, I had extensive experience in launching and managing organisations, developing educational programs and introducing new training techniques and methodologies.

I am also a co-founder of Start It Smart, a leading entrepreneurship organization that supports Bulgaria's startup community. Additionally, I co-founded Mind Mapping, a company that provides accelerated learning, licensed by the inventor of Mind Maps - Tony Buzan. I am also a licensed trainer in Suggestopedia, personally trained by Prof. Dr. Georgi Lozanov, who developed the renowned learning method. Before all that, I had a great starting point as a student at the Sofia High School of Mathematics, where I not only honed my analytical thinking and math skills but also forged great friendships and found inspiration for my future career.

2. How does your prior work experience relate to your current role as co-CEO of the largest free IT education initiative for children in Bulgaria?

My previous professional experience in entrepreneurship and educational innovation has provided valuable insights into fostering innovation and alternative learning methods. Over the years, I have deepened my understanding of optimising the learning process and the profound impact of education. Drawing from these varied experiences, I'm dedicated to lead initiatives that inspire and empower Bulgaria's next generation of tech leaders through Telerik Academy School.

3. And speaking of it, could you share some details about Telerik Academy School and its mission?

Telerik Academy School is on a mission to provide free training to children from a young age. Our purpose is to equip them with the necessary skills and knowledge required in today's digital world. We train children in technology and programming to ignite their curiosity and passion for learning, prepare them for future careers, inspire them to learn more and help them become future digital leaders, sought-after professionals and active citizens.

4. How has the organisation evolved over time?

In 2011, we began with 16 cohorts in algorithmic programming in a few towns and since then, we have grown to reach around 25,000 students. Over the years, we have also expanded to offer new programs in digital science, cybersecurity, game development and web design. We have welcomed new teachers, some of whom are alumni of our programs and extended our reach to 47 locations across Bulgaria.

Something we are very proud of is that an external evaluation in 2020 revealed that 93% of the 18+ TAS alumni with IT-related jobs stayed and worked in Bulgaria. They represent approximately 5% of the total number of people employed in the IT sector in Bulgaria. This is a significant contribution by a single program operating for a decade.

This success motivated us to look for a new way to reach more students nationwide and encourage them to learn and develop. Therefore, over the last two years, we have developed a new model that can enable schools in Bulgaria to implement our programs directly into their curriculum. Since the beginning of 2024, we have joined foreces with Technokrati team, and together, we can offer an even wider variety of programs to students through schools.

5. What were the biggest challenges you have faced in the process of growing the Telerik Academy School?

One of the biggest challenges we faced was finding a way to expand our reach and enroll more students every year. However, we have come up with a new model that involves implementing our programs through schools, which will also help us overcome this challenge. Over the years, our team of professionals has played a crucial role in our success. We have also been fortunate to receive long-term support from our partners and donors, such as Questers (becoming Pwrteams), which significantly impacts our ability to overcome obstacles.

6. In 2023, for a 3rd year in a row, Questers (becoming Pwrteams) decided to financially support the organization's mission. Please tell us how the funds were distributed.

Questers (becoming Pwrteams) made a significant contribution in 2023 by supporting two cohorts in Montana and Sevlievo. Your financial contribution enabled 37 students to receive free education in programming and digital sciences, which contributed to the improvement of their knowledge and skills. This investment in education will have a positive impact on the students' future prospects and the wider community.

7. How can businesses best support and collaborate with the Telerik Academy School to increase its impact?

Investing in education is crucial for building a better world and businesses have a significant role to play in achieving this goal. The education system produces the workforce, and if we want to live in a better country and world, we must invest more in education. Telerik Academy School is committed to provide quality education to more students and developing new programs. Businesses can support us in this effort. By making a donation, companies can help us create opportunities for students and contribute to building a more educated generation. Additionally, companies can encourage their employees to support organisations that matter to them, including Telerik Academy School. Spreading the word about our work and programs is also a great way to help us reach more people. Many of our long-term partnerships were established through referrals from other partner companies. Join us in our mission to make quality education accessible to all students.

8. Are there any exciting upcoming projects, events or initiatives you would like to share about?

We are exited to announce the launch of Buki.bg, an innovative education platform that enables us to provide our programs to schools across Bulgaria. The platform's website went live just a few days ago and thanks to the generosity of our donors, we are now able to offer a minimum of 150 free yearly subscriptions to public schools.