The LUCAS Schools’ Global Citizenship Project, Jane Plastow (University of Leeds)
The LUCAS Schools’ Global Citizenship Project was a pilot programme that ran from September 2004 to July 2006. The aim of the project was to give an opportunity for African postgraduate students at the University of Leeds to share their knowledge of Africa with young people in Leeds primary and high schools, in order to support both the national curriculum global citizenship agenda and to promote a wider knowledge of African culture, politics and development among young people in the city. The project ran with the financial support of a DfID mini-grant and funding from the University of Leeds Widening Participation Fund, plus in kind assistance from LUCAS, primarily in the form of free administration and project management….
Not all that comes out of Africa is ‘bad’, Evelyn Matsamura Kiapi (Ugandan taught postgraduate at the University of Leeds, recruited and trained by the LUCAS Schools Project 2007-08)
When I enrolled for a Post-Graduate degree course in Development Studies at the University of Leeds a year ago, the least I expected was to become an ‘Ambassador for Africa.’ Never did I, at any one time think I would be standing in front of a primary school classroom in the UK teaching up to a hundred children about Africa. Being an Ambassador meant I had to ‘sell’ my continent to this young generation regardless of the impressions they already had if it. Personally, I have always had my own perceptions about Africa. Honestly to an extent, I was convinced that there was nothing ‘good’ to tell about my homeland. But the more time I spent telling the attentive children what I knew about the continent, the more I realised that there was more to Africa than just ‘bad news.’…
The Weekly Observer in Uganda (pdf, 131KB)
Africans Don’t Use Mobile Phones: A critical discussion of issues arising from the Leeds University Centre for African Studies (LUCAS) ‘African Voices’ project, Richard Borowski and Jane Plastow
‘African Voices’ is a project run by LUCAS that takes African postgraduate students studying any subject at the University of Leeds, trains them in relation to the British education system and to active learning methodologies and then sends them out into Leeds schools, years 5-8, to work in a range of modes to challenge negative ideas about the continent, to help make Africa ‘real’ to young people, and to seek to arouse their interest in different cultures….
The Hidden Cost of a Red Nose, Richard Borowski (University of Leeds)
Every two years the British nation puts its reserve to one side for a day and engages in activities that one would normally see performed by entertainers at a children’s birthday party. In aid of good causes people dress up like street performers, willingly get involved in bizarre sponsorship activities and wear red noses to raise money for those less fortunate than themselves….
Primary Geographer, Summer 2011, (pdf, 338KB)
Young People’s Perceptions of Africa, Richard Borowski (University of Leeds)
Teaching young people about other countries and cultures is an important aspect of challenging stereotypical perceptions that lead to expressions of racism. At the end of the Millennium Stephen Scoffham wrote in his article Young Children’s Perceptions of the World:
Without intervention infants are liable to accept uncritically the bias and discrimination they see around them. Stereotypes promoted in advertisements and stories of war, famine and disaster in the media further distort perceptions. At the same time, the influence of parents and peer group pressure may also serve to confirm negative views. From here racism and all its attendant evils are only a short step away.
Since 1999 there have been several government initiatives to prepare young people for life in a globalised world. However there has been little study of the impact these educational developments have had on young people’s perceptions of the wider world. This paper presents the results of research conducted by the Leeds University Centre for African Studies (LUCAS) to assess young people’s perceptions of Africa and the impact of an educational initiative, African Voices, developed by the Centre….
Race Equality Teaching, 2012, (pdf, 280KB)
Media Influences on Young People’s Perceptions of Africa, Richard Borowski (University of Leeds)
Since 2004 the LUCAS has been running an outreach programme in Leeds schools to promote a greater understanding of Africa by recruiting, training and supporting African postgraduate students, studying at Leeds University, to deliver activity days in primary schools. Research conducted by LUCAS alongside this outreach programme indicates that young people have a very stereotypical perception of Africa. The postcolonial paternalistic perspectives of Africa propagated by the media and charity campaigns were found to have the greatest influence on young people’s perceptions.
Despite numerous educational initiatives, to promote equality and diversity and incorporate a global dimension to the curriculum, young people’s perceptions of Africa have changed little over the past twenty years. Assessment of the impact of the African postgraduate students indicates that they were able to challenge young people’s stereotypical perceptions by providing them with an opportunity to engage directly with someone from the continent….
African Voices and Infrahumanisation, Richard Borowski (University of Leeds)
In 1994, ten Belgian soldiers, attached to the UN peacekeeping force in Rwanda, were killed during the mass slaughter of 800,000 Rwandans. At the time, Jacques-Philippe Leyens studied the reaction of the Belgian public and the national press to the genocide and observed far more concern for the 10 Belgians soldiers caught up in the conflict than the 800,000 Tutsi. To understand this phenomenon, he developed the theory of ‘Infrahumanisation’ to explain why people deny humanness to groups of people they perceive as essentially different to their own group. The theory is based on the belief that people view ‘out-groups’ as less human than their own ‘in-group’ and that this view is reflected in the types of emotions people believe their own ‘in-group’ and other ‘out-groups’ possess. Some emotions are considered unique to humans e.g., love, regret, nostalgia (UHEs), whereas others are viewed as common to both humans and animals e.g., joy, anger, sadness (non-UHEs)…
Unpublished research, 2015, (pdf, 704KB)
Watering Cans or the Fire Brigade? African Voices in the Classroom, Richard Borowski (University of Leeds)
Africa is a continent in flames. And deep down, if we really accepted that Africans were equal to us, we would all do more to put the fire out. We’re standing around with watering cans, when what we really need is the fire brigade.
This Bono quote is from an interview with the BBC thirteen years ago during the ‘Make Poverty History’ campaign. Since the Live8 concert in 2005 there have been significant changes to global economics and politics and even more since Live Aid concert twenty years earlier in 1985. We are told that the Millennium Development Goals are making a difference but for millions of people across the African continent fundamental global inequalities are inhibiting their full participation in the world economy. The lives Africans living on the margins or caught up in civil conflict are still as vulnerable as they were thirty years ago. The recent and ongoing ‘famine’ across East and West Africa and is a testimony to the legacy of European colonialism and a ‘Western’ negation of responsibility. After years of campaigning are we any nearer to accepting African people as our equals? Are we still using watering cans to douse the flames of an imperialist hangover? I hope that this presentation on African Voices in the classroom will provide an answer, or at least an explanation, to the questions posed by Bono in 2004.
Africa in the Irish Classroom Conference, 2017, (pdf, 249KB)
African Voices – In Their Own Words, African Postgraduates at the University of Leeds recruited by the LUCAS Schools Project
Between 2004 and 2020 the LUCAS Schools Project recruited and training 134 African postgraduates to deliver activity days and sessions about contemporary Africa in local schools. They came from 20 different African countries, mainly from former British colonies, to study a wide range of taught postgraduate courses (103) and undertake postgraduate research (31) at the University of Leeds.
Behind these numbers, each of the African postgraduates had their own reasons for joining the LUCAS Schools Project and their own stories to tell. Granted, they represent a section of the African population that had the opportunity to excel within the education systems in their own countries and were fortunate enough to secure the sponsorship required to continue their studies in the UK. Nevertheless, they were ambassadors for the continent of Africa, their countries and their own ethnic communities.
Why did they join us on the LUCAS Schools Project journey? What did they experience along the way? What new skills, abilities and perceptions did they acquire? This is their story, in their own words…..
Unpublished reflections, 2020, (pdf, 154KB)
Influence of Affluence and Diversity on Perceptions of Africa: The African Voices Schools Project, Richard Borowski (University of Leeds)
The LUCAS Schools Project was a unique outreach initiative developed by the Leeds University Centre for African Studies to challenge stereotypical perceptions of Africa and its peoples. From 2004 to 2020 the Centre recruited, trained and supported African postgraduates at the University of Leeds to deliver African Voices activity programmes about contemporary Africa in local schools.
This article revisits research data collected between 2007 and 2011 from a perspective of affluence and diversity in the local community to determine whether these factors have an influence on the perceptions young people hold of Africa and its peoples. Impact evaluations of African Voices programmes, delivered by the African postgraduates, and reflective questionnaires, completed by pupils after their African Voices programmes, collected over the past 10 years have also been analysed.
The findings indicate that affluence and diversity both have an influence on how young people perceive Africa and Africans. Young people living in more affluent and more diverse areas of Leeds are more likely to express more positive perceptions. However, there has been little change to the prevalence of stereotypical perceptions of the African continent and its peoples amongst young people since 2011….