Lilyana Kovatcheva (Lili Kovacheva, Лиляна Ковачева [Lilyana Kovacheva]) was born into an Erli family in the Romani mahalla of Kyustendil, southwest Bulgaria, in 1960. She was the first woman in her community to receive a university education and the first Romni to hold a PhD from a Bulgarian educational institution.
Kovatcheva began her career as a primary school teacher and principal of the Romani school in Kyustendil. Later she became an expert of Romani as the mother tongue (2002-2006) and director of the Centre for the Educational Integration of Children and Students from Minorities (2011-2015), a body subordinated to the Bulgarian Ministry of Education and Science.
Since the1990s Kovatcheva has been played an active role in activism and networking, promoting Romani women’s rights, researching Romani culture, developing materials for Romani children and translating to and from Romani. She has published various language editions of the book The Rom knows the way, which portrays prominent Romani activists from around the world, as well as folklore collections and academic articles.

Listen also to the interview with Lilyana Kovatcheva and a reading by Lilyana Kovatcheva.

Selected bibliography

Kovatcheva, Lilyana. 2000. Rom knows the way. New Delhi.

Kovatcheva, Lilyana. 2001. O Rom dzhanel o drom. New Delhi.

Kovatcheva, Lili. 2003. Shakir Pashov. O apostoli e romengoro 1898-1981: = Шакир Пашов. [Апостолът на ромите в България 1898-1981] [Šakir Pašov. Apostolăt na romite v Bălgarija]. Sofia: Kham.

Kovačeva, Lili. 2008. Armanja. Baxtaljaripe. Paramisies. Sofia: Dimi 99.