Leisure interests of young people in Malaysia : a cross-cultural study
The aim of this investigation is to contribute to an understanding of the leisure behaviour and needs of young people in multi-ethnic urban areas in Malaysia. Over a thousand boys and girls of two age cohorts (14--15 years old; 16--17 years old) and of Malay, Chinese or Indian origin from six secondary schools took part in the survey. They completed a questionnaire which asked them about their involvement in extracurricular activities at school (sports and games, clubs and uniformed movements), commitment to school, self-esteem and their pursuits outside school (like leisure activities, homework and tuition). A smaller sample of 85 boys and girls were also interviewed to show the variety of differences in the survey. Pupils' involvement in school activities was found to be related to sex, age, academic attainment, ethnic origin, school commitment and self-esteem. Participation was more common among girls; in older age groups; among the academically able; and among Malay pupils. Participants in school activities showed high school commitment and high self-esteem. Only a minority of pupils were non-participants in extracurricular activities. Their self-esteem tended to be low and their mean score on commitment to school was below average. Commitment to school was not related to social class, academic attainment or ethnic origin in the sample surveyed. A large proportion of non-academic pupils expressed favourable attitudes towards school. No differences in school commitment were observed among pupils of different ethnic backgrounds. Positive relationships among self-esteem and academic attainment, social class, high status school and age were found. A common factor which was related to involvement in a wide range of leisure pursuits and school-related activities (such as homework) was academic attainment. Pupils in the low attainment group were more likely to pursue a greater number of leisure activities than pupils in the high attainment group who, in turn, were more likely to pursue school-related activities. Pupils from schools of high status and advantaged home background were more likely to be involved in school-related activities than leisure activities. Leisure activities were seen as offering opportunities to those who may seek satisfaction and personal identity denied to them in the school environment. The results show that the activities, interests and stresses of Malaysian adolescents are similar in many ways to those of adolescents in developed societies. There are differences in the patterns of leisure activities among the different ethnic groups, Malay, Chinese and Indian; and these can be linked to the contrasting cultural and ethnic traditions of Malaysia. But there are also basic similarities in the attitudes and values of the young people, and this is interpreted as an encouraging sign fdr social integration and national identity in Malaysia.