What do your pupils think of Africa?
Most young people have distorted and stereotypical perceptions of the African continent and its peoples which are reinforced by charity campaigns that utilise ‘negative’ imagery to generate compassion and donations and ‘bad’ news stories of events in African countries.
‘When you see Red Nose Day you see loads of pictures of people starving’ (Year 6 pupil)
‘I thought it was like what you see on the news – straw huts and fighting’ (Year 6 pupil)
‘I thought all people were poor and they didn’t have any technology’ (Year 5 pupil)
Over the past 10 years the LUCAS Schools Project has conducted research into young people’s perceptions of Africa and the impact of African Voices activity days. Our research has focused on 9 – 11 year olds in primary schools and has used a range of techniques to identify how young people visualise, describe and perceive the African continent and its peoples.
We have found that young people’s perceptions of the African continent and its peoples varies widely. Their perceptions are significantly influenced by factors such as their cultural and socio-economic background. Children between 8 and 12 years old are like mirrors, reflecting back the unfiltered knowledge and ideas they absorb from the world around them. Young people who are fortunate enough to have access to opportunities to explore diversity beyond their immediate locality are more likely to be positive about the African continent and its peoples. However, they are equally likely to express common stereotypes about the African continent and its peoples that are unquestioningly propagated throughout UK society.
Whether you are requesting an African Voices day for your pupils or not, you can use the research techniques developed by the LUCAS Schools Project to assess your own pupil’s perceptions of the African continent and its peoples.