Young People’s Perceptions of Africa

Since 2007 LUCAS has been conducting research to assess young people’s perceptions of Africa and the impact of African Voices activity days on those perceptions. The 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 Africa and its peoples.

The results of this research were initially presented at the Development Education Research Conference in Galway, in September 2009, and subsequently at the Geographical Association Conference in Guilford, in April 2011, and at the Africa UK Journalism Conference in Luton, in April 2012.

An article about the influence of Charities on young people’s perceptions of Africa was published in the Summer 2011 edition of Primary Geographer. A summary of the research has also been published in Race Equality Teaching, Volume 30, Number 3, Summer 2012. Both are available to download.

Key Findings

  • Prior to the delivery of the African Voices Days most young people had very distorted and stereotypical perceptions of Africa and its peoples.
  • The main influences on young people’s perceptions were found to be charity campaigns that utilise ‘negative’ imagery to generate compassion and donations and ‘bad’ news stories of events in Africa.
  • Young people’s perceptions were also influenced by their community – young people from more affluent areas had more positive perceptions than young people from less affluent areas.
  • Following the delivery of the African Voices Days most young people had a more positive and balanced perspective of Africa and its peoples.
  • The African students had an equally positive impact on all young people regardless of their starting point or background.

Conference Papers and Articles