Education in Moldova includes five tiers. Students enter school at the age of six and graduate at 17, and the school year runs from September to July, similar to American school systems. Introduction to the educational system begins with primary school until age 10. Secondary education is split into lower and upper secondary cycles. Lower secondary, grades five to nine, is called gymnasium. Gymnasium graduates must pass an entrance exam to qualify for Lyceum before admittance.
Upper secondary—or lyceum—includes grades 10 through 12. Graduating from lyceum qualifies students to receive their “Scoala Medie de Cultră general,” or general certificate of completion. Students may also be awarded a Diploma de Bacalaureat if they opt to take and pass the national baccalaureate exam.
Higher education is offered by both private and public universities, academies and institutes. Getting a degree from any of these can take four to five years depending on the chosen upper secondary education. Undergraduate, Masters and Doctoral studies are also available.
The Moldovan Constitution guarantees that state public education be free and all citizens have the right to access to education. Higher education in Moldova is more or less free. Tuition fees for students living off-campus is an average of 5000 Moldovan Lei, or $280.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) occurs every three years in order to test the effectiveness of education in Moldova, with a two-hour-long exam on math, science and reading for 15-year old students. The program is a global effort that engages over half a million students from 72 countries in order to evaluate education systems worldwide.
PISA encourages the development of facilitative learning environments and improved educational systems for low and middle-income countries and aims for inclusive learning for all students. PISA is designed to assess students’ ability to apply what they have learned in school to real-life situations. The organization’s main goal is to measure a country’s effectiveness in preparing students for success in higher education and a professional career.
In 2009, Moldova scored below average in all areas of study according to PISA test results. However, in 2015, Moldovan students had a 15-point increase in the sciences, a 28-point increase in reading and a 23-point increase in math. Equity rankings between boys and girls and social backgrounds are about equal.
In 2013, the Moldovan government devised and instituted pivotal changes that may be responsible for improved scores: increased funding and academic accountability. Increased financing for public educational institutions has undoubtedly improved conditions.
The implementation of the Education Management Information system (EMIS) which includes information about a school’s ranking and performance marks, has motivated schools to improve their quality of education. This also allows parents to make informed decisions when choosing a school for their child.
The students’ PISA scores offer a hopeful insight into education in Moldova. Although it may not be the best, it is improving.
– Sloan Bousselaire