Before and during World War II, about three-fourths of the population was illiterate. Great strides have been made since then, and as of 2000, the government claims that complete literacy has been achieved; however, Western estimates put the adult illiteracy rate at 15% (8% for males and 23% for females). Public expenditures on education were estimated at 3% of GDP in 1995.
Preschool training for children ages three through six is general but not obligatory. The basic compulsory school program, extending for eight years (ages 6 to 14), combines practical work with study. In 1997, there were 559,457 primary students, with a teaching staff of about 30,110. Secondary education lasts from three to five years, depending on the type of school attended. These include comprehensive and vocational schools as well as schools specializing in the arts, sports, foreign languages, and pedagogy. At the secondary level in 1996, there were 6,321 teachers and 89,895 students. Student-to-teacher ratio as of 1999 stood at 18 to 1 for primary education and 17 to 1 for secondary schools.
Other institutes of higher learning include two agricultural schools, one institute for fine arts, one institute of physical culture, and three teacher-training institutes. In 1997, all institutions of higher education had 2,348 teachers and a combined enrollment of 34,257 students. In 1957, the Institute of Sciences was elevated to university rank, and Tiranë State University became the first and only institution of university status in Albania. It was later renamed Enver Hoxha University of Tiranë. In 1971, two more universities were founded—Universiteti I Koree and Universiteti Bujguesor I Tiranes. In 1991, the University of Shkodër was established.