Primary education is free of charge and accessible for all, regardless of religious affiliation or social status.
In Moldova, the education and access to it is directly tied to the family's standard of living. That’s why a lot of children do not attend school. The current prolonged economic crisis, poverty, and unemployment have affected both the quality of education and the ability of young people to take advantage of their right to study. The most vulnerable are families with many children. Such families often live below the poverty level and in conditions that don't permit the children to develop their personalities. Even if the children are able to go to school, children from poor families enter the educational system later and with significant disadvantages since the majority of them did not attend any type of preschool. They are usually weak in school and a lot of them quit after finishing primary school.
At the same time, the overall number of children in the country who are going to school is decreasing. In the last seven years, the number of pupils has gone down 22 percent. For this reason, some schools in villages with few residents risk being closed while other schools are overcrowded with children. In both cases, the quality of the education offered suffers.
The quality of learning is also being reduced, first because of the exodus of teachers from the profession, something which has become alarming in recent years. Many schools lack even a single teacher for certain subjects, their positions being filled by retired teachers. Young graduates are not attracted to teaching school due to the low salary and they don't see the value in it. To encourage teachers to stay at a school, the parents often pay the teachers unofficially through the parent association. However, this disadvantages children from poorer families who cannot pay. As a consequence, these children are discriminated against.
Poverty is not the only obstacle in access to school. A large number of children with special needs are not able to attend regular school because of the social stereotypes and stigma. Children of Roma ethnicity, children with special needs, or children infected with HIV/AIDS are also discriminated against. Even if the official opinion of the public, the school, parents and students is that these groups of children should be included in regular schools, in practice things are rather different.
In terms of gender equality in school, Moldova does not have significant problems. Girls and boys currently do not have different levels of access to studies. According to the first studies done in this area, girls face a slightly better situation in school than boys, and they manage to have better marks.