The education system in Moldova consists of preschool, primary, secondary and higher education. The preschool education is for children up to the age of seven years. The primary education is between grades one through four and typically involves children between the ages of 8-12. The secondary education consists of two tracks: general and vocational. General secondary education from grades 5-9 is called the gymnasium, and grades 10-12 is called liceul (lyceum). The vocational track is called the professional liceul. Higher education consists of two stages, short-term college education and university education. These institutions were traditionally awarding Diplomas but, in the year 2000, were also using the titles of Bachelor and Master to conform to international standards.
The language of instruction under the Soviet rule was Russian. However, since 1989, Moldovan was adopted as the official language and in the year 2000, nearly two-thirds of all pupils were studying in schools where Moldovan was the language of instruction. However, schools serving the needs of minorities and schools with Russian, Gagauzian, Ukrainian, and Bulgarian as the language of instruction are also present. Students of other nationalities (Jewish, Polish, and German) have the opportunity to study these as a separate subject. Nonetheless, state policy emphasizes that all citizens should study Moldovan. Since its independence the Moldovan government has also added substantial courses in Romanian literature and history to the curriculum. Strong ties have been established between the education systems in Romania and Moldova. Throughout the 1990s Romania extensively donated textbooks to replace books from the Soviet era. At the university level, change is coming slowly and Russian still remains the predominant language of instruction. The academic year starts on September 1 and continues until June with a winter break in December and January.
In 1994, there were 2,062 preschools with an enrollment of 223,300 students and 20,100 preschool teachers. In 1994, there were 1,692 primary and secondary schools with 731,000 students and 50,300 teachers. The number of colleges was 62 with an enrollment of 43,800 students. The higher education institutions were 18 in number and enrolled 55,200 students. In addition, there were 87 vocational institutions with 39,800 students.
Since the late 1990s, private education as an alternative to state education has also begun in Moldova. The institutions follow the regulations established by the Ministry of Education and Science. In 2001, there were 137 private institutions with 20 universities, 9 short-term colleges, 14 pre and primary schools, 12 gymnasiums and lyceums, and 82 schools of trade. In 2001, there were 19,800 students in these institutions. There is a growing emphasis in promoting the private sector for meeting the educational needs of the country. This is evident from several governmental policies. In December 1999, the Government proposed an Action Program that prioritized the agenda in the educational sector as improving the hierarchical-organizational and institutional structure of professional and higher education system; developing the private sector and accrediting private educational institutions; developing and widely using national education standards; upgrading the qualifications and training level of experts within educational institutions; and orienting public funds towards improvement of preprimary, primary, secondary, and vocational education.
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