GERMANY: Once-lauded education system under fire

Germany, the birthplace of kindergarten and the modern university, has long been admired for its commitment to education and for good reason: for generations its specialised schools produced more than their share of Nobel Prize winners, as well as the highest skilled tradesmen - high-octane fuel for Europe's economic powerhouse - writes Vanessa Fuhrmans for The Wall Street Journal.

Today, however, Germany is coming to grips with a much different report card - that of an academic underachiever. Almost one-fifth of Germany's 15-year-olds can't read proficiently, and just 29.8% of young adults have a higher education degree, below the European Union average of 33.6%.

For a country whose primary asset is brain power, Germany can hardly afford to lag behind in education. Fearing that large swaths of the future workforce may soon be too uneducated to maintain Germany's export-driven economy, much less support its fast-aging population, policy-makers have wrestled with a range of reforms in recent years despite deep support within society for the current educational system.
Full report on the Wall Street Journal site