childfund logo
3rd Annual Small Voices Big Dreams Survey
Nov 21, 2012

A unique global survey reveals that 25% of children surveyed from Ireland want to be athletes while children in developing countries want to become teachers

A  ChildFund survey, released today, of more than 6,200 children reveals that those in developed countries dream of becoming professional athletes and entertainers, while children in the developing world aspire to be doctors or teachers. ChildFund Ireland Chief Executive Michael Kiely commented that the findings confirm our belief that children throughout the world have a keen awareness not just of the world around them but also the wider world and our responsibility to it.  Mr. Kiely said “It is important to listen to the voices of children and provide them with opportunities to reflect and consider issues that will affect their futures.”

This year, children were surveyed about their hopes, dreams and fears, as well as their thoughts on the environment. The report is a timely reminder for world leaders to consider the views of future generations, as the next round of UN climate talks begins in Doha at the end of this month. Secretary-General of the ChildFund Alliance, Jim Emerson, commented, “Children in the developed world have likely been inspired by the 2012 Olympics with one in five wanting to become professional athletes, and by celebrity culture, with one in 10 aspiring to be entertainers. In complete contrast, children in developing countries seek careers that will ensure the basic needs of their community are met in the future, with one in four citing doctor, nurse, dentist or healthcare professional, and another one in four choosing to be a teacher.”  13% of Irish children surveyed want to become entertainers, 6 % teachers and 6% doctors or nurses as opposed to Mozambique for example, where 41% of Children want to become teachers and 18% want to become doctors or nurses and none want to become an athletes or entertainers .

These findings come from the third annual Small Voices, Big Dreams global children’s survey, commissioned by the ChildFund Alliance and compiled by GfK Roper. This unique poll of 6,200 children aged 10 to 12 years in 47 countries – from Afghanistan to Nicaragua to Zambia – not only provides a global snapshot of children’s views but sheds light on the commonalities and differences between the developed and developing world.

Mr Emerson added that even in a world of two halves, children globally were united in wanting to protect the world. “Globally, children are deeply concerned about pollution and the risk of natural disasters. One-third of children cite pollution as the environmental problem they worry most about, while one-fifth are most concerned about natural disasters, such as drought, earthquakes and floods. Irish children were concerned with the levels of pollution and littering and were also concerned with increased flooding.

“Children also say they want to see action to improve their own communities. In developing countries, planting more trees is a priority, while in developed countries, addressing littering is top of mind,” he said.

The report also sheds light on how recent major events motivate children’s fears. Mr Emerson commented, “When asked the question, ‘What are you most afraid of?’ children in Japan chose natural disasters (26 per cent), reflecting their experience of last year’s earthquake and tsunami. Children in Sierra Leone (43 per cent) said death, illness and disease, likely reflecting the poor sanitary conditions experienced. Children in Liberia (38 per cent) and Afghanistan (30 per cent) listed violence as their number one fear, a natural reaction to their war-torn environments,” he said.

Irish children’s fear related to animals 26%, violence and crime ( 12%) and bullying (15%)

ChildFund’s annual Small Voices, Big Dreams survey is a strong channel for children, globally, to be given the opportunity to have their say on important issues and, in particular, gives a voice to some of the world’s most vulnerable and overlooked children.

Mr. Emerson said: “ChildFund is committed to learning from children in the communities where we work. Listening to children contributes to our understanding of how they view and experience the world, and helps guide our priorities and programs. For instance, in this year’s survey, we see that education is top of mind for children in developing countries – a consistent and crucial finding.

“We are reminded that children can think beyond themselves and consider how their world can be improved. We’ve also gained insight into their hopes, dreams and fears so that we can help them reach their full potential,” he said.

The full report is available at http://www.childfund.ie/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Small-Voices-Big-Dreams-ALLIANCE-FINAL.pdf

A summary of the survey results is available at Summary of survey results

The 47 countries that participated in the survey were:

Angola Bolivia Afghanistan Australia
Benin Brazil Cambodia Canada
Burkina Faso Dominica & St. Vincent India Denmark
Cape Verde Ecuador Indonesia France
Ethiopia Guatemala Laos Ireland
Ghana Honduras Mongolia Japan
Guinea Mexico Nepal New Zealand
Kenya Nicaragua Philippines South Korea
Liberia Paraguay Sri Lanka Sweden
Mali Timor-Leste Taiwan
Mozambique Vietnam United States
Sierra Leone
The Gambia





please support our work for
disadvantaged children today

how you can help