Word Echoes from SANZ: “Youth Month / Youth Day“
Written by Helewise Arends on June 15, 2018
JUNE, known as Youth Month, is celebrated throughout the country in South Africa.
YOUTH DAY is celebrated on June 16 in the country. The day pays tribute to the pupils who lost their lives during the June 16, 1976 uprising in Soweto. A demonstration in Soweto, led largely by high school students angered the Apartheid government they were met with a brutal crackdown by the police and set off a wave of protests and violent conflicts across South Africa.
The Soweto Uprising was marked by 15000 uniformed pupils gathered outside the Orlando West Secondary School,
to participate in a peaceful march against the use of Afrikaans in their classrooms. It came in response to multiple issues with the Bantu Education Act and the government edict in 1974, that Afrikaans be used as medium of instruction for certain subjects in black schools The association of Afrikaans with Apartheid prompted black South Africans to prefer English.
The mobilization came to a peak when the youth of Soweto marched towards Orlando stadium and along the way security forces tried to stop them with tear gas and warning shots. When the students continued their peaceful marching, the forces then opened fire with live ammunition. The bloody aftermath of the day left a death-toll reportedly of 176, with some estimates up to 700 people.
While the Youth of 1976 fought against the system of the Apartheid government, our youth of today face new challenges. High levels of unemployment and poverty are serious challenges, which need to be addressed.
Youth Month has been highlighted by the government to take on a whole-of-society approach,to equip
youth with skills and tools needed to lead a life of value and is built on 5 pillars, including: Strengthening families; Improving education and training; Increasing access to economic opportunities; Giving youth a positive sense of belonging and providing effective services and support to reconnect to society,an integrated approach to youth development.
June 16 now serves as reminder of the progress SA has made with respect to equality for youth, as well as the importance they play as agents of positive change and hope for the future. This year, Youth Month takes place in conjunction with the 100 years for Nelson Mandela and Albertina Sisulu.
Youth Month 2018 will be commemorated under the theme “Live the Legacy: Towards A Socio-Economically Empowered Youth”