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Education - where is it heading?
Ion Basiul, 3 September 2004

Drifting towards market economy, Republic of Moldova is confronted with numerous political, economic and social problems. Far from being encouraging, especially given the worsening situation in education, which after all is the main pylon of the human development in Moldova.

The conflict around the Moldovan Latin script schools in Transdniestria has made things even worse. It was triggered by Tiraspol secessionist regime. Despite the efforts of various international organizations to settle the conflict, the situation around the six schools in Transdniestria remains tensed at the beginning of the new school year and it seems there is no way out.

In a related note, things are not so rosy on the Moldovan side either. Massive exodus of labour is gaining grounds, and great many of them are teachers. According to a UN report, in the last ten years 48,000 teachers have left their job in search for a better wage and therefore a better living abroad. And the reason for that is the slow pace of salary raise as compared to the cost of living and as compared to other sectors of economy. Another illustrative figure, average monthly wage for a teacher this year, 660 Lei, represents only 61% of the average wage per economy (1 USD ~ 12 Lei). Average wage of a professor, 880 Lei, represents 93.5% of the average wage per economy.

Annually Ministry of Education sends around 500 University graduates to the schools of the country, out of which almost a half quit their jobs and flee for a better life abroad, or try their luck in other sectors where they could count on better wages. Around 600 out of the 2,000 graduates of pedagogical institutions sent to schools and lyceums stayed with their job. The shortage of teachers last year reached 1,300 people, while currently there are 22,441 vacancies in schools only.

Recently Government passed a draft on amending the Law on Education aimed at attracting young graduates to schools in rural areas. Under the draft, graduates of pedagogical schools shall be entitled to a single indemnity equal to four minimal salaries, whereas graduates of universities to six minimal salaries. In addition they shall be entitled to bonus equal to 50% of the minimal salary in economy and a series of other benefits that would supposedly lure graduates to rural areas. Of course Government undertakings are worthwhile, however the draft provides no benefits to the teachers already working in the field, on top of that 2004 state budget does not provide for any salary increase in education.

Yet another problem is the situation of the retired teachers. There are teachers who worked for 30-40 years in schools and now get a meagre pension worth 300-400 Lei.

In a related note, one may only applaud Government's actions towards adopting Code on Science and Innovation, despite the flaws and criticism voiced by opposition and ruling party alike. In the eyes of many it should not be called a Code at all, as codes apply exclusively to legal fields. Others, oppose the Chairperson of the Moldovan Academy of Science to seat in the Government.

As previously mentioned, education in Moldova faces some major deficiencies. Signing Cooperative Agreements with various international educational institutions would likely improve the situation in the Moldovan education system. In this respect it is worth mentioning the moral and financial support provided by Romania, which annually grants scholarships to young Moldovans in various fields and offers high-quality education. There are high expectations that once they get familiar with Western experience when returning home young Moldovans would help the country take its due place among other developed countries.






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