Dealing with misconceptions of Africa

Greetings and a Happy New Year to our friends at Kafuro and other schools involved in the Queen Elizabeth Parks Project. At Liss, we have just begun teaching our topic on Uganda.

One of the misconceptions many people in the UK have about Africa is that Europe is rich and Africa is poor. I tried to address this in my lesson. I gave the children fourteen photos and told them seven were of the UK and seven were of Uganda. The children were set the task of sorting the photos into the two piles.

When the children had finished the sorting operation they were asked to talk to the class about how they had placed the photos and the reasons why. The answers were very interesting and not what I was expecting:

Firstly, no group placed all the photos in the correct piles, but their justification for their choices was cleverly thought through. Where the weather was sunny, the children placed the photo in the Uganda pile because they associate Uganda with sunshine and the UK with rain.

They also placed a photo of a posh restaurant in the Uganda pile because the type of fish was not the same as you would find in a UK restaurant. I was impressed with their observation skills.

The posh house they placed in the Uganda pile because it had a 4 x 4 car outside and they had heard me talk about how many cars of this style were needed in Uganda because the roads are so bad.

When I placed all the photos in the correct piles they looked like this:

Uganda Photos

UK Photos

 

Finally, I asked the children where they would prefer to live and why based on the evidence in the photos. They all answered Uganda and explained that the UK looked a horrible place to live which was full of poverty. When I asked the children if there was anything strange, I got the answer I was looking for. This is what Sam B said,

“We would expect to see photos where all the poverty was in Africa, but actually there is lots of wealth there just as there is lots of poverty in the UK. We think that the media shows a very stereotyped image of Africa that isn’t always true.”

We will be addressing this misconception in greater detail when Rowan Class present an assembly to the school next week.

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