With one eye on legislative elections next year German Chancellor Angela Merkela has undertaken a nationwide tour of schools to promote education reforms.
The government has made addressing problems of inequality in the eductation system a top priority and it promises to be a major theme in the coming election campaign.
The flaws have been recognised for many years and even international organisations like the OECD have joined in calls for change.
Critics say pupils are channelled at too early an age towards professional or vocational training and many fall by the wayside. The problem is compounded by social and linguistic differences.
Merkel has called for more cooperation between the federal and regional governments, particularly in financing education.