Thousands of black students went on a protest rally, in Soweto on the 16th of June 1976. The students were protesting against an official Government order which made Afrikaans compulsory in all medium schools throughout the country, many of which had neither language in their schools.

Police began confronting the protesting students who were apart of the organised march. Images of the police firing on peacefully demonstrating students led an international detestation against South Africa, as its inhumanity was exposed.

Hector Pieterson was one of the many children who lost their lives in the 1976 Soweto uprising. Sam Nzima (who regrettably passed away in May this year) took the widely-known photograph of fatally-wounded Pieterson being carried by the brave Mbuyisa Makhubo, in Orlando West, near Phefeni High School. Pieterson was 12 at the time of his death.


Pic credit: Creative Commons.

Although the protests of 16 June 1976 resulted in a number of casualties, the youth of 1976 played a role in fighting against, and overcoming the inequality and oppression caused by apartheid.

And today, 42 years later, South Africa continue to honour them.

OurHood asked Sibusiso Khasa, Communications Manager for Save the Children South Africa (SCSA), what they felt Youth Day was synonymous with. “It is a day to commemorate those to who lost their lives fighting against the brutal and oppressive Apartheid regime. The day serves as a reminder to the youth of today that they need to follow in the footsteps of the class of 1976 and become agents of change. This means confronting the number of challenges that the nation is facing, (i.e. unemployment, high rates of crime etc.).”


Pic credit: Save the Children.

SCSA is the leading independent organisation in care and protection for children.
In 2015, the Save the Children movement agreed on a new global strategy – Ambition for Children 2030.

“Through this strategy, we will harness our resources, energy, knowledge, and expertise to drive our three global breakthroughs for 2030:
Survive: No child dies from preventable causes before their fifth birthday.
Learn: All children learn from a good quality basic education.
Be protected: Violence against children is no longer tolerated.


Pic credit: Save the Children.

“SCSA works in 5 provinces (Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the Free State), and in two districts per province; availability of funding is the driving force and the reason why SCSA can only support the stated areas,” says Khasa. Hence the reason the SCSA teams are unable to work in the country’s other 4 provinces right now.


Pic credit: Save the Children.

To prevent and respond to violence against children, Khasa says SCSA has partnered with organizations who have counselors and psychologists.
“Positive discipline in everyday teaching, positive parenting through book sharing and violence against children education sessions including leadership training for Representative Councils of Learners,” are other programmes which they provide.


Pic credit: Save the Children.

SCSA is also actively campaigning for adequate nutrition for young children by running community education sessions, community dialogues and distributing education materials about child feeding, breastfeeding support groups, and hosting child health advocacy days in the districts they support.

Childline, another organisation focused on improving South African children’s lives, began in 1986, in response to the very high levels of child sexual abuse which characterise South Africa.
Childline offers a 24-hour, toll-free helpline and supportive therapeutic social services for children who have been victims of violence, as well as their families: 080 00 555 55
You can also visit their chatrooms on their website to chat to them, Monday – Friday, from 14:00 – 18:00.


Pic credit: Save the Children.

While many South Africans merely enjoy the fact that Youth Day is a public holiday, the critical work of these two organisations hit home the importance of caring for South Africa’s next generation of leaders.

May we never forget the thousands of brave students who stood up for what they believed in.

They stood up for change. They stood up for equality.


Pic credit: Creative Commons.

You can find out more about Save the Children South Africa on their website and social media pages:
Website: www.savethechildren.org.za
Facebook: facebook.com/SavetheChildrenSouthAfrica
Twitter: @SaveChildrenSA
Instagram: @savethechildrensouthafrica


Pic credit: Save the Children.

What are you, or the company you work for, doing for Youth Day this year? Tell us in the comments below.
Need some ideas? Vibescout has put a list together to inspire you.