While Moldova was a part of the Soviet Union, its education system was based on the Soviet pattern, and Russian was the language of instruction. However, after its separation, extensive changes were introduced in the education system. In 1996, educational expenditure amounted to 9.7% of GNP and approximately 28.1% of total government expenditure.
Education is compulsory for 11 years, between the ages of 6 and 17. In 1997, primary schools enrolled 320,725 students and employed 14,097 teachers. Student-to-teacher ratio stood at 23 to 1. In the same year, secondary schools had 445,501 students and 28,615 teachers.
The Moldovan State University was founded in 1945 and uses both Moldovan and Russian as languages of instruction. In 1997, all institutions of higher education had a combined enrollment of 93,759; teaching staff totaled 8,814. For the year 2000, adult illiteracy was estimated at 1.1% (males, 0.4%; females, 1.7%).