Exams limit student creativity, says survey

Exams limit student creativity, says survey

With exam season just days away, most students are focusing on just getting good grades.

By Muaz Shabandri/staff Reporter

Published: Mon 23 Feb 2015, 1:30 AM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 7:50 PM

Schools and universities across the UAE are stifling student creativity and merely preparing students for tests and exams. “The education system itself is quite rigid. It needs to be flexible, allowing students to do critical thinking. We have to take bold steps to unlock creativity and innovation in students,” said Dr Ayoub Kazim, Managing Director of Dubai Knowledge Village.

In a poll that surveyed 5,891 respondents, 75 per cent said tests in formal education reduced creativity. “The education system needs to change completely. We need an overhauling. Starting from kindergarten upwards, we have to incorporate changes,” explained Dr Kazim.

He advised educational institutions to keep up with technological innovations and make educational offerings more relevant for students. The study by Bayt.com also revealed that 56 per cent of respondents voted the UAE as the most creative country in Mena, followed by Qatar (15 per cent), Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (11 per cent) and Egypt (8 per cent). A panel discussion hosted on Wednesday brought together experts to discuss the drivers and barriers to creativity in the region.

Speaking at the session, Tarek El Sakka, CEO of Dubai Refreshments Co (DRC) said: “Traditional education systems prepare kids core well. The success of a student is evaluated on how well they do in these tests. In business, success is measured differently. People need to have an ability to adapt, find solutions and work with available information.”

He added: “We should remove barriers about what a right career is. People should be encouraged to pursue careers which they are passionate about.”

It was found that 42 per cent of respondents cited lack of money as the reason they could not be as creative as they would like to be, followed by 16 per cent who identified a lack of knowledge and 10 per cent who said age was the biggest barrier to creativity.

Suha Mardelli Haroun, Regional Sales and HR Director, Bayt.com said: “Creativity is a core skill and one that is vital across all sectors. We must encourage collaboration and inspiration and actively tackle areas where barriers to creativity exist.”

Explaining how universities can help students play a bigger role in the national innovation agenda, Dr Youssef Al Assaf, President of Rochester Institute of Technology Dubai said: “Universities can encourage creativity in two ways. One is to incorporate it as part of the curriculum by focusing on innovation. Another is to engage the students with partners from the industry.”

For Sumeet Singh, sending his 5-year-old to school is more about helping the child discover himself.

“There is a lot of competition among schools to outperform each other and that pressure is passed on to students. Sometimes teachers also insist on pushing students to get better grades. All this leaves children with very little time to think about themselves.”

With the exam season days away, most students focus on getting good grades and restrict their daily activities to devote a major chunk of their time for studies.

Ismail Faiz, a student at an Indian school in Dubai says the pressure can get ‘overwhelming’ at times.

“There is a lot of pressure and it gets built up over the year. Everyone talks about marks and compares scores.” -muaz@khaleejtimes.com

More news from Education