Youth and the future: Values and aspirations of high school students in a multicultural society in transition - Trinidad, West Indies

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This study sought to assess the impact of social and cultural factors upon the values and aspirations of adolescent boys and girls in a multicultural society, Trinidad. The sample comprised fifth and sixth form students (502 boys, 276 girls) drawn from all the secondary schools in Trinidad, and represented the five principal ethnic groups: African (254), East Indian (279), Mixed (135), White (57), and Chinese (63). Data were obtained from projected autobiographies of the future written by the students as part of a larger research project, a questionnaire, and a sentence-completion test. The themes evoked were chiefly related to: educational aspirations, occupational choices, final goals in life, plans for marriage and children, attributes desired in a spouse, political aspirations, and desire to emigrate. It was found that the groups ranking low in prestige--African and East Indian respondents, both boys and girls--were more likely to exhibit high ambition in the areas identified, while Mixed and White respondents were less likely to do so. Chinese students rated high on educational aspiration only. East Indians tended to be ambitious and confident, while Africans were ambitious but insecure and afraid of failure. Africans and East Indians were also more likely to express a desire for the welfare of their national or ethnic groups, and political aspirations. Moreover, they were attracted to the traditional occupations (medicine and law), while White and Mixed expressed preference for the modern fields of technology. White and Mixed were also characterized by an absence of political ambition; they were more likely to express the wish of permanently leaving the island. It was found that class affiliation was significantly related to aspiration for high status occupation; respondents from economically deprived groups were more likely to choose a high-status occupation than respondents from economically privileged groups. Respondents who attended the better schools were more likely to have high occupational aspirations. Fantasy goals, such as desire for great power, wealth, and fame, were mentioned with higher frequency by the low-prestige groups


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