U.S. English Foundation Research



Language Research

6. Language in everyday life: The use of language in everyday life, e.g. education, broadcasting, and other

The use of the Moldovan or Russian languages in relations with administrative bodies and public services is the choice of every individual citizen. The Law also guarantees the use of Gagauzian in Gagauzia. In the localities with Russian, Ukrainian, Bulgarian and other ethnic groups, the language of communication is either the mother tongue of the respective minority or any other acceptable language (Article 6 of the Law on the Use of Spoken Languages on the Territory of the Republic of Moldavia).

National minorities have the right to pre-school, primary and secondary education in their native language. Language instruction in Moldova is provided in the following languages of national minorities: Russian, Ukrainian, Gagauzian, Bulgarian, Yiddish, German and Polish. Other minorities can learn their national languages optionally. Russian, Ukrainian and Gagauzian are all used as languages of instruction Higher education and vocational-technical education is undertaken in Moldovan and in Russian. There is the Gagauzia University in Gagauzia. Mixed schools have parallel classes: Moldavian-Russian, Russian-Ukrainian, and Russian-Bulgarian.

The National Radio of Moldavia broadcasts the following specialized programs in the languages of ethnic minorities: Russian, Ukrainian, Gagauzian, Bulgarian, Yiddish and Roma. The Moldavian Television also broadcasts in the Russian, Gagauzian, Ukrainian, Jewish, Bulgarian, and Romany languages.

In the capital there are five national libraries: Ukrainian, Russian, Gagauzian, Bulgarian, Jewish. All of them are financed by the State.

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Updated (October 2002)


The annual statistics before 1989 in different educational institutions showed the diversity of nationalities among pupils and teachers, but only two languages of instruction. In 1989, 59.4 percent of students were taught in Moldavian and 40.6 percent in Russian.

After 1989 the situation has not changed significantly when teaching at all levels was conducted in two languages, Moldovan and Russian. The languages of national minorities as well as foreign languages are studied as a separate subject in some schools. In other schools a number of subjects are taught in them. If we consider a national minority school to be the school, where the language of the majority of the population is obligatory, but all other subjects are taught in national minority languages, then there are only several experimental schools (classes) with the Ukrainian, Yiddish, and Bulgarian languages of instruction. Russian still remains the primary language of education for national minorities.

Currently, there are four types of minority schools in the country:

  • Schools with the Russian-language instructions, where representatives of different minorities traditionally study
  • Schools with Russian as a medium of instruction, where mother tongue (Ukrainian, Gagauz, Bulgarian) is studied as a mandatory subject, three hours per week in grades 1-9; and two hours per week in grades 10-11 in a general secondary school and in grades 10-12 in a lyceum
  • Schools and classes with the Russian language of instruction, where mother tongue is studied as a subject and in addition one to three other subjects are taught in it
  • Schools and classes with a native language (Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Polish, German) as a medium of instruction

In all those types of schools the Moldovan language is obligatory in all grades.

Today from 634,691 pupils 508,954 (80.2 percent) are of Moldovan ethnic origin, 42,790 (6.74 percent) belong to Ukrainian ethnic group, 34,762 (5.47 percent) are Russians, 31,416 (4.95 percent) belong to Gagauzian minority, 10,834 (1.7 percent) to Bulgarian ethnic group, 1,055 (0.16 percent) to Jewish minority, 1,755 (0.28 percent) are representatives of Roma people and 3,125 (0.49 percent) belong to other minority groups.

The majority of children belonging to national minorities study at schools with the Russian language of instruction. Thus, from 1,489 pre-university institutions (primary schools, gymnasiums, general secondary schools and lyceums) 260 (17.4 percent) are with the Russian language of instruction and 114 (7.6 percent) have separate classes in Russian and Moldovan.

Seventy-eight percent of the total number of children are instructed in the Moldovan language; 131,574 (21.8 percent) study in the Russian language; 374 (0.06 percent) pupils are instructed in Ukrainian and 171 (0.02 percent) pupils in the Bulgarian language. There are two schools were Jewish history, culture and languages (Hebrew and Yiddish) are studied.

While the Gagauz movement for autonomy has resulted in increased attention devoted to the language in schools and media, it has not influenced the use of Russian as a main language of instructions. All of 36 schools and 16 lyceums (29,483 pupils), Pedagogical College and the Comrat State University in Gagauzia teach in Russian with the exception of a single school in Vulcanesti and a lyceum in Comrat, which use Moldovan. However, Gagauz children study their own language (3 hours per week) in primary classes and in secondary schools as a subject. Moldovan is a compulsory subject in all schools, though to find qualified teachers, who wish to live and work in Gagauzia is a problem.

The Ukrainian language is studied in 34 schools and 3 lyceums (5,984 pupils) (Transnistrian area is not included). The Bulgarian language is studied in 27 schools and 3 lyceums (7,925 pupils).

One of the realities of minority schools is the need to learn four languages: mother tongue (Ukrainian, Bulgarian, etc.), state language (Moldovan), the Russian language and one foreign language (English, German, French, etc.).

  • Mother tongue education for ethnic minorities is a basis for the development of personality, preservation of national identity, preservation and development of minorities’ culture and social integration. Therefore, respect for the principle of mother tongue education is an absolute must.
  • Moldovan must be the second language because it is one of the main conditions to integrate a person to socio-political, economic and cultural life of the republic.
  • Russian should be also obligatory, taking into account the long-lasting cultural tradition, geo-political and economic situation of the country.
  • Democratization of Moldovan society favors conscious study of foreign languages as a way of expansion of personal possibilities and a tool of European integration.


Training of minority teachers is another very important issue. Conditions are created to train teaching personnel for pre-schools and primary schools with the Russian, Ukrainian, Gagauz and Bulgarian languages of instruction. Specialists in Russian, Ukrainian, Gagauz and Bulgarian philology are trained at four state universities: Moldovan State University, Pedagogical State University “Ion Creanga” (Chisinau), Pedagogical State University “Aleco Ruso” (Balti), Comrat State University (Comrat, Gagauzia) and one private university in Chisinau (Slavic Private University).

Personnel for the Russian language kindergartens and primary schools is being trained in Pedagogical college “Alexei Mateevich” (Chisinau), Bendery Pedagogical College and Pedagogical University “Ion Creanga.” Balti State Pedagogical University trains teachers with double qualification “Romanian and Russian languages.”

Teachers for kindergartens and primary schools with the Ukrainian language of instruction and specialists with the qualification “Romanian and Ukrainian languages” are prepared at Lipcani Pedagogical College and Balti Pedagogical University.

Training of teachers with the qualification “Romanian and Gagauz Philology” is carried out in Comrat State University and Pedagogical University “Ion Creanga” (Chisinau). Teachers for Gagauz kindergartens and primary schools are trained at Comrat Pedagogical College “Mihail Ciakir.”

Pedagogical personnel for Bulgarian pre-schools and primary schools are trained at Taraclia Pedagogical College and Lyceum “Saint Kiril and Metody.” Teachers with double qualification “Romanian and Bulgarian philology” are prepared at Pedagogical State University “Ion Creanga” and Comrat State University.

Students’ language and pedagogical practice is organized at Moldovan educational institutions as well as in the institutions in Russia, Ukraine and Bulgaria.

Source: World Congress on Language Policies, Barcelona, April 16-20, 2002, “National Minorities Education in Moldova: The Legal Framework and Practice,” by A. Stoianova, http://www.linguapax.org/congres/ taller/taller3/article23_ang.html

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Updated (July 2005)


The Ministry of Education will enable 1,000 Romanian students from the Republic of Moldova to study in a pre-university education system in Romania. There are 850 scholarships available and 150 places are exempted from the school taxes; however these are without a scholarship.

Young people in Bessarabia, the graduates of the 9th grade with a certificate of gymnasium studies, will be entitled to 760 places. Fifty scholarships will be granted to the graduates of Moldovan eastern departments and up to forty scholarships to those coming from the 8th grade in Romanian schools having a national test for the accession to high-school education.

The scholarships are distributed to high schools in Romania. Based on an admission test the registration of 9th grade graduates in Moldova, as well as graduates of the 8th grade in Romania (with a permanent residence in Moldova) is possible.

Source: Minelres News, July 4, 2005, http://lists.delfi.lv/pipermail/minelres/2005-July/004079.html, DIVERS, Divers Bulletin No. 25 (153), July 4, 2005, Bucharest

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