The education system's emphasis on examinations is stifling creativity and failing to equip students with important non-academic skills, says film producer and director Clifton Ko Chi-sum. Speaking at a leadership training programme organised by the Boys' and Girls' Clubs Association of Hong Kong, Ko out lined the qualities required by the leaders of tomorrow. The most important qualities were independent thinking and creativity. However, under the present education system students were simply divided into two groups, he said. 'We are creating winners and losers. Students who have good results in public exams are the winners and those who fail are labelled losers. 'It is unfair. Even though people were strong at another aspect - other than academic - society would not give them a second chance only because they had bad academic results.' Ko said youths were also shy about speaking up for their be liefs or expressing their feelings because they were afraid of being punished. Life could not be seen simply in terms of black or white, right or wrong, but that was the way students were taught, he said. 'We are encouraged to look for a right answer, but not second or third alternatives. This is not the right attitude. 'Of course, our lives will be easy if we follow the old pattern. But the quality of life won't improve if we dare not have dreams and visions.' Besides creativity, it was important to understand one's own strengths and weaknesses. 'It helps you to develop your strong side and improve your weak points,' he said. 'However, most people do not have time to think because of the overwhelming amount of information. They have too much to absorb but too little time to digest.' Information technology could improve the quality of life in many ways, but people should not ignore its negative side, he said. Spending hours surfing the Internet hampered the development of communication skills and made students more self- centred. 'In general, their interpersonal skills are weaker. Instead of taking part in extra-curricular activities, students sit in front of the computer making 'cyber' friends. That will easily isolate you from reality.' He said students should take part in more activities in order to broaden their horizons. 'There is an art to getting along with dif ferent kinds of people. Com munication skills cannot be taught by your parents, teach ers nor computers unless you have real contact with people,' he said. 'Leadership training, organisation skills and time management are things that you cannot learn from the curriculum but which can benefit your future.'