A reorganization plan was announced in 1990 that would extend the compulsory education program from eight to ten years. The following year, however, a major economic and political crisis in Albania, and the ensuing breakdown of public order, plunged the school system into chaos. Widespread vandalism and extreme shortages of textbooks and supplies had a devastating effect on school operations, prompting Italy and other countries to provide material assistance. The minister of education reported in September 1991 that nearly one-third of the 2,500 schools below the university level had been ransacked and fifteen school buildings razed. Many teachers relocated from rural to urban areas, leaving village schools understaffed and swelling the ranks of the unemployed in the cities and towns; about 2,000 teachers fled the country. The highly controlled environment that the communist regime had forced upon the educational system over the course of more than forty-six years was finally liberated set for improvement.
As in Communism, teacher discipline remains a major problem in the Albanian education system, as teachers resort to violence, while students are expected to simply memorize the assigned material. Furthermore, corruption among teachers is becoming a problem as 'envelopes' and expensive gifts are the norm when faced with important deadlines, such as entry averages, or not failing the grade. However, there has been an effort to adopt the Western model whereby the student is at the center of the education system as opposed to the current Eastern model where the teacher holds the dominant role.

In the late 1990s, many schools were rebuilt or reconstructed to improve learning conditions. Most of the improvements have happened in the larger cities, such as the capital Tirana. The latter suffers from vast overcrowding of classrooms, resulting in 2 daytime teaching shifts, while heating during the winter is a major problem. The old communist propaganda has been taken out of all school curricula and more emphasis has been put on mathematics, sciences and humanities. The school week was shortened from 6 to a 5-day week. Some of the wealthier schools have begun introducing computers, but many schools still lack basic supplies for laboratory classes.

Meanwhile, private, non-public institutions across all levels have opened up with improved teaching material, staff, and added extra curricular activities, but expensive fees. Similar changes have also taken place in the post-secondary level. A number of private universities have been established in different cities of Albania, offering students possibilities of studying in different branches. E-learning programs have begun to be introduced, offering students the possibility of following online courses. However, some post-secondary private institutions have become known as simply "diploma factories", as was the case with the granting of a controversial university diploma to the son of famous Italian politician Umberto Bossi.As a result, the Albanian government has closed a dozen of such institutions in an attempt to clamp down on the phenomenon.