EducationNationalVOLUME 18 ISSUE # 32-33

Nurturing creativity in Pakistani education: Challenges and solutions

The education system in Pakistan faces significant challenges in nurturing creativity among students. While policy documents emphasize the importance of creativity in education, teaching practices often prioritize rote learning and exam-centric approaches.

Muhammad Jabbar, a senior teacher at a government high school for boys in the suburbs of Lahore on the Multan Road, dismisses the idea of employing pedagogical methods learned during teacher training programmes to control his noisy classroom.

He advises his new colleague, Khwaja Muhammad Usman, that such methods used in developed countries or elite English medium schools in Lahore won’t work with their students. According to Jabbar, who has 16 years of experience, these students come from humble backgrounds and respond only to strict discipline.

Jabbar suggests establishing strict control from the first day of class by making all the students stand on their desks until they can recite the answers without hesitation. He also recommends using guidebooks that provide concise answers to save time and not hesitating to use physical discipline if necessary.

While Usman acknowledges the importance of nurturing creativity, he finds it challenging to employ new teaching styles due to the students’ prior exposure to traditional methods. Usman teaches middle and secondary classes (grades 6 to 10) and believes that creativity should be fostered from preschool and throughout schooling. However, he laments that the ground reality in Pakistan contradicts this approach.

Dr. Robina Shaheen conducted a study on creativity in education and found that while policy documents emphasize its importance, textbooks and teaching practices mainly encourage rote learning. Her research revealed that children have some capacity for generating original ideas but struggle with producing abstract titles and thinking beyond the ordinary due to the focus on knowledge acquisition rather than creativity promotion.

The challenges of untrained teachers exacerbate the situation. In many private schools, teachers range from matriculation to bachelor’s degree holders, with some holding master’s degrees, mostly in social sciences. Their selection criteria often revolve around the low salary they demand, rather than qualifications or training. The private education sector in Pakistan is significant, with approximately 197,626 private schools across the country, catering to almost 50% of students.

While some private schools claim to provide training and refresher courses for their teachers, concerns remain about the promotion of creativity. Ahmad Moeez, a parent with children in a private school, expresses skepticism about the emphasis on rote learning and exam grades rather than fostering creativity and critical thinking.

In conclusion, the education system in Pakistan faces challenges in promoting creativity and creative thinking among students. The reliance on traditional teaching methods, the prevalence of untrained teachers in some private schools, and the focus on exam results contribute to a lack of emphasis on nurturing creativity. Addressing these issues requires a shift in pedagogical approaches and comprehensive teacher training programs that prioritize creativity promotion alongside knowledge acquisition.

Recognizing the importance of addressing the issue of untrained teachers in private schools, Ms. Nyla Shabbir, a senior teacher at a private school, disagrees with the notion that all private school teachers lack training. She emphasizes that her school system, which has a well-established head office on Wahdat Road in Lahore, ensures that its teaching staff receives proper training and refresher courses during the summer vacation. According to her, the teachers in her school system are on par with those in any other school, be it public or private, in terms of their teaching skills.

However, Ahmad Moeez, a parent whose children attend a branch of Ms. Nyla’s school system, remains skeptical about the extent to which creativity and creative thinking are fostered in these schools. While he acknowledges that teachers may receive training in pedagogical methods, he believes that it does not necessarily translate into the promotion of creativity among students. Mr. Moeez observes that the focus in these school systems is primarily on achieving high exam grades, which results in excellent performance in board exams but does little to stimulate creativity or critical thinking.

It is essential to acknowledge that while some private schools may prioritize teacher training and claim to foster creativity, there is still a prevalent culture of rote learning and exam-oriented education in many institutions. This hampers the development of students’ creative abilities and inhibits their potential to think outside the box.

In order to address these challenges and ensure the promotion of creativity in education, a comprehensive approach is needed. This includes not only providing adequate training and support to teachers but also revising curriculum frameworks to incorporate creative teaching methods and encouraging critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Additionally, involving parents and the broader community in the education process can help create an environment that values and supports creativity in students.

Ultimately, nurturing creativity and creative thinking among students requires a collective effort from educators, policymakers, parents, and society as a whole. By prioritizing creativity in education and empowering teachers with the necessary training and resources, Pakistan can foster a generation of students who are not only knowledgeable but also innovative, imaginative, and prepared to tackle the challenges of the future.

Promoting creativity in Pakistani education requires a multifaceted approach. Addressing the issue of untrained teachers in private schools is crucial, as it directly impacts the quality of education. While some private school systems claim to prioritize teacher training, the focus on exam grades often overshadows the promotion of creativity. To foster a culture of creativity, a shift in teaching methods and curriculum frameworks is necessary. Encouraging critical thinking, problem-solving, and innovative approaches can help unleash students’ creative potential. Additionally, involving parents and the community in the education process is vital to create an environment that values and supports creativity.

By investing in teacher training, revising curricula, and involving stakeholders, Pakistan can lay the foundation for a more creative and forward-thinking education system. Nurturing creativity from early childhood and fostering its growth throughout students’ schooling years will equip them with the skills needed to thrive in a rapidly changing world. It is through collective efforts that Pakistan can unlock the full creative potential of its students and pave the way for a brighter and more innovative future.