Education, Health, and Welfare

Education, Health, and Welfare

In the decades prior to independence, the Moldavian SSR's education system made substantial progress toward being available to all citizens. At the beginning of the twentieth century, illiteracy had been common among Moldova's rural population. But by 1992, the adult literacy rate had risen to 96 percent. In 1990 the mean duration of schooling was six years, and 30 percent of the population aged fifteen and older had completed general secondary education.

Under the Soviet education system, the Moldavian SSR had parallel systems of Romanian-language and Russian-language education through secondary school, although Russian was seen as the key to advancement. In 1990 a total of 614 preschools were taught in Romanian, 1,333 were taught in Russian, and 373 were taught in both Romanian and Russian. There were 1,025 Romanianlanguage primary and secondary schools with 399,200 students; 420 Russian-language schools with 239,100 students; and 129 mixedlanguage schools with 82,500 students studying in the Russian and Romanian languages, with more than half of the students studying in Russian. Change occurred slowly at the university level, however, and 55 percent of students continued to study in the Russian language as of 1992.

Under Moldova's education system, ten years of basic education are compulsory, followed by either technical school or further study leading to higher education. In the early 1990s, the Moldovan government restored the Romanian language in schools and added courses in Romanian literature and history to the curriculum. The governments of Romania and Moldova established strong ties between their education systems; several thousand Moldovan students attended school in Romania, and the Romanian government donated textbooks to Moldova to replace books from the Soviet era.

As Moldovan society became more industrialized and more complex under the Soviet regime, the role of higher education also expanded (although ethnic Russian and Ukrainian students were given preference in university admissions during the Soviet era). Although there were only ten students per 10,000 population enrolled in institutions of higher education in 1940, this number increased to 120 per 10,000 population in 1992. In early 1995, Moldova had ten institutions of higher education; four of these institutions had been established since independence. The republic also maintained institutes of agriculture, economics, engineering, medicine, the arts, pedagogy, and physical education.

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