The youth of this generation are often associated with misbehaviour and social issues. The World Youth Report estimated that 25 percent of youth cannot unlock their true potential, as their impoverished backgrounds put them in at-risk groups. They are deprived of prospects for improving their lives and becoming dependable and responsible adults. Indeed, they are victims of an environment which stifles their true potential. To address this issue, and environmental approach is suggested so that their talents, rather their common problems, become the organising element behind their participation in intervention programmes such as PERKASA@remaja programmes.
Youth development faces challenges and contradictions. On one hand, we recognise the youth as a national asset, who will determine the future progress of the nation. On the other hand, we consider the youth as an immature group that is constantly challenging the norms of society and as problematic, displaying negative anti-social behaviour.
Youth development is important to a nation in many ways, since the state of the youth can be treated as a key indicator of the state of the nation. Youth development is expected to reflect the cycle of booms and busts in the economy; shifts in cultural values over sexuality, morality and family life; the concept of nationhood; and occupational structures.
Although many agree that young people are important actors in a country’s progress, there are instances when they are marginalised and excluded from participating fully in society and its institutions. Studies have shown that those who have positive life experiences tend to be associated with a mainstream status, particularly with regard to secure income and employment. On the other hand, those with negative life experiences tend to struggle with time, space, resources and identity formation. They also frequently exhibit anti-social behaviours.
Some young people face difficulty in reconciling the reality of their circumstances and the pressure and promises of material wealth and well-being that an increasingly globalised society offers. Like all other living organisms, young people must adapt to their environment. The situation today, be it economic, social or political, certainly differs from the youthful days of the older generations. Therefore, if the youth behave differently from the adults, that behaviour is presumably a product of the process of their adaptation to the changing environment. It is obviously not genetic.
To address issues relating to marginalised youth, there are two possible intervention programmes: preventive and curative. Among them, preventive measures are more difficult to conceptualise, plan, implement and evaluate. They are also more proactive in nature and produce long-term and enduring results. Yet curative measures are absolutely necessary, since damage has been done. Furthermore, these measures are more popular, as they are easy to plan and implement, and they produce short-term effects.
In correspondence with the argument above, the PERKASA@remaja programmes introduced two approaches, namely, PERKASA@community, as a community-based preventive programme, and PERKASA@camp, as a curative camp-based intervention programme.
How It Began
Issues relating to young people seldom escape the attention of the media. Bad news is always good news. Issues linking the youth with anti-social behaviours, such as drug abuse, loafing, gangsterism, bullying and pre-marital sex, get more media coverage and set the agenda for public discussion. Although numerous programmes and strategies are in place to address those issues, they continue to attract public attention and, is some ways, create moral panic due to the insinuation of moral decay among the young people.
YABhg. Datin Paduka Seri Hajah Rosmah Mansor initiated the idea of carrying out intervention programmes to address anti-social behaviours among the youth with the then Vice-Chancellor of UKM, Prof Tan Sri Dato’ Sharifah Hapsah.The idea was to develop an innovative social intervention programme that could produce a bold, dynamic, competitive and confident young generation.
The Youth Empowerment Centre (PERKASA) of UKM was entrusted with the tasks of instituting the intervention programmes for marginalised youth in urban communities and rehabilitating young people who have displayed negative social behaviours.
In 2009, the PERMATA Negara Committee Meeting chaired by the Prime Minister, The Hon. Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak, approved the proposal to implement two programmes, namely, the community-based empowerment programme for youth in marginalised urban communities and the camp-based intervention programme for Mat Rempit and other youth exhibiting negative social behaviours.