Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Navigating the Education System of Moldova

Gradinița = Pre-school/Kindergarten
This school is much like a daycare.  The children who are typically toddler age up to 4 or 5 years old spend all day at this “school.”  They are dropped off in the morning around 8:00 or 9:00 and stay at the school until their parents get out of work or their older siblings pick them up after school, which can be between 16:00 and 18:00.   It’s a really long day for little children.  The facilities in my town are great.  They have little beds for the kids, the room is kept very warm, they feed the kids and they have plenty of toys and activities.  When I say “they” I mean the one teacher of about 25 kids and the kitchen/building facility help.  When I visited, the kids were really scared of me and did not really speak much at all.   

Scoala Primară = Primary School Grades 1 - 4
This basically functions the same as a primary school in the USA.  The only general difference is the hours of classes.  Most children can’t afford to have lunch at school and so they go home.  Many times going early for classes 8:00 and leaving around 13:00 or 14:00 without snacks or food. 

Gimnaziu = Middle School Grades 1 - 9

Scoală = High SchoolGrades 1 - 11

Liceu = High School Grades 1 -12

Abiturient = period between when one graduates high school and then goes to college/university.  I find it interesting that in Romanian they have a word for this period of time.  In the USA we would call this “Summer Break” and in most cases it is less of a break and more of a time to work your butt off and save some money for school.  However, I do believe that in Moldova this “break” can last much longer than one summer and often times does include working.  I chalk it up to the lack of guidance counseling in schools for the students that take longer breaks to figure out what they wish to do with their lives (I will write about this in a follow-up post).

BAC = Baccalaureate test
This test is much like the USA's SAT or ACT exams.  It is a standardized test that must be taken in order to enter the higher education system.  

Higher Education System:

Scoală Profesionala = 2 - 3 years
Professional or vocational school much like New York State's BOCES system.  Students can choose to enter a this school after 9th grade to learn a trade or skill.

Colegiu = 3 years
This school can also be entered after 9th grade.  I would compare this to a Community College and acquiring an Associates degree.  A step up from Vocational school but not quite a university education.  

Acadamie = Specialized University
An academy is basically a school dedicated to one area of study, offering several specializations.  Such as "The Academy of Economics" and within this school you can specialize in different aspects of economic study.

Universitate = University with many areas of study available
(3 years undergraduate + 2 years Masters)
Facultate = Department
Specialitate = Specialty within a department

The Universities in Moldova are set up very similar to those in the United States of America.  The main difference for the state universities is the way funding is given to the universities.  For instance, if a university deems that the department of language study needs 10 new computers then they must submit their request to the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Finance for the new computers.  If these two ministries determine that the department does not need 10 new computers but rather 5 new books and 5 new chalkboards then that is what they receive.  Financially it is a very top-down controlled system.  Like in the USA, the university system is hurting in today's economy and is counting on the majority of the students who are graduating this spring from high school to attend a university in Moldova.  It looks like major synergy is needed between the current universities and high education system in this country if it plans to survive fiscally. 
Do any of my readers have any examples of a USA university financial model? 


  1. Very interesting...thank you for sharing this with us. I am a native of Canada and am always interested in comparing Canada vs. U.S.A vs....any other countries and cultures.

  2. Hello Anonymous! I am glad that I could help. If you have specific questions about other topics in Moldova please let me know!