As PROJECT-E aims to empower young women through education, we would like to focus today’s attention on a public holiday whose origins lay in South Africa, but that is now recognised throughout the world: the International Day of The African Child. Observed on June 16, 2020 for the 30th time, this day is aimed at raising awareness on the challenges African children are confronted with in order to receive a quality education. Highlighting education as a basic human right as well as being key for children’s future development and success, the International Day of the African Child serves as a reminder that improving access to education for children across the African continent remains a key challenge.
Apart from its current importance, the Day of the African Child has got strong historical value since it commemorates June 16, 1976. On that day, more than 20,000 South African students uprose against apartheid-inspired education policies in the township of Soweto, demanding to be taught in their own language. The protests were violently suppressed by armed police officers. The death toll is uncertain, but probably around 100 protesters died. Fifteen years later, the “Organisation of African Unity“ instituted the Day of the African Child to commemorate the students who had taken to the streets and lost their lives fighting for their right to study. This year’s Day of the African Child, which the African Union invites everyone to reflect on, has been entitled “Access to a Child-Friendly Justice System in Africa”: https://au.int/sw/node/38636.
Written by Nanja Boenisch