Letter:Answering German question

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The Independent Online
Sir: Andrew Marr's article on Germany and Europe and Bryan Appleyard's concerning anti-educational cultures in Britain, point to a common truth. For politicians and others of Eurosceptic views, the German question is one of envy rather than fear of war. How has it come about that the defeated Germans in 1945 have shown such economic, social and democratic progress when we British have fallen behind?

Many thousands of Brits, like me, have lived and worked in Germany since 1945. Most will agree that the UK and German ways of life have a great deal in common. Many also agree that the German democratic form of government is better than ours, with its regionalism and discussions prior to passing new laws.

The class system still unfortunately surviving in Britain is not replicated in Germany, and there are only a handful of private schools, mainly boarding. Germany's success has to a large extent depended on the excellence of its state education system, administered by the different Lander (regions).

Grammar, technical and secondary modern schools are the norm, and parents and pupils have absolute choice as to which type of school they attend. However, there is no automatic right to promotion according to age; pupils failing two subjects by the end of the school year have to repeat that year. Thus both parents and pupils have a much greater interest in education, especially as if, at age 16, not having a good school leaving certificate means they cannot get an apprenticeship, applicable to all jobs.

The German question is really how can Europeans of other states match their achievements? Certainly not by being envious or pretending we do things better.

Mrs P Ward