The practice of consulting children and young people about their worlds has not yet gained purchase in Africa. However, more recently a number of studies have implemented the concept of ‘consulting pupils’ (Rudduck and Flutter 2004) and have provided data relevant to educational policy and social intervention. This chapter provides an overview of a sample of these studies about the ways in which young people living in largely impoverished communities in Ghana, Zimbabwe, Kenya and South Africa have been consulted on health and moral education in school. These pupil voices from four African countries, drawn from studies conducted by the authors, provide insight into the possibilities of mainstreaming pupil voice studies and offer interactive methodologies for doing so on a continent where adult voices provide the dominant discourse. In much social science research, the view prevails that children are too young to offer worthwhile data.

Consequently, the focus of empirical studies becomes research on, rather than with, young people, and researchers often interpret young peoples’ points of view instead of offering them in their own right (Davies 2008; Shanahan 2007). Nevertheless, there is currently a growing body of research that views young people as social actors active in the determination of their worlds (Corsaro 2005 cited in Davies 2008; Nieto 1994). This paradigm shift significantly addresses power relations, arguing that young people are often subject to sociocultural structures determined by adults. However, because young people are both social actors and part of a changing world, their ‘young’ status can be renegotiated and understood within a research context. This brings into the open young people’s voices that are filled with personal experiences; when incorporated in pedagogic practice, they serve to enrich the learning process (Rudduck and Flutter 2004). Rudduck and Flutter (2004) describe consultation as talking with pupils about things that matter to

them. It may involve, among other things, conversations about teaching and learning; seeking advice from pupils about new initiatives; inviting comments on ways of solving problems that are affecting the teacher’s right to teach and the pupil’s right to learn; and inviting evaluative comments on recent developments in school or classroom policy and practice. Rudduck and Flutter argue that consultation must be genuine on

the part of the teachers and provide the opportunity to hear from the silent or silenced pupils in order to understand why some disengage, and how to help them to get back on track. In this chapter, our consultation of pupils is not limited to the dynamics of pedagogy but also explores pupils’ personal worlds and the ethical dilemmas encountered in such sensitive exploration. We interrogate four studies in Ghana, Zimbabwe, Kenya and South Africa. The first of these was carried

out in Ghana and describes pupils’ constructions of HIV/AIDS using interactive drawings and focus group discussions. It also presents the challenges of accurately translating the local language into English, challenges which also emerge in the South African study. The second study is from Zimbabwe and captures pupils’ voices through an innovative method termed ‘self-writing’, during which youths present their knowledge of myths surrounding HIV/AIDS, as well as their misconceptions of the disease. The third study is set in Kenya and explores the tensions and power struggles that emerged when teachers consulted pupils on the HIV/AIDS education in their school. The final study is located in South Africa and explores the flexibility and preparedness of the researcher in honing basic ethical guidelines in the context of consulting pupils about their moral behaviour and understandings.