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Youth Day in South Africa


Youth day or Soweto day is a public holiday in South Africa. Every year on 16th June Youth day is celebrated in South Africa. This year marks the 45th anniversary of youth day. The day is celebrated in remembrance of students who stood against the Bantu Education system and started the Soweto Youth Uprising in 1976.


The Bantu education system and the apartheid government in South Africa in the 1970’s lead to students’ rise for their rights. The protests started in 1975 when the Bantu educational system passed a rule where ‘Afrikaans’ was directed to be used on equal terms with English as a language of teaching in secondary schools. The introduction of ‘Afrikaans’ was not a problem in fact the entire educational system was flawed where the black students had to deal with segregated schools and universities, substandard facilities, overcrowded classrooms, and improperly educated teachers. The policies introduced by the apartheid government and the flawed Bantu educational system lead to the formation of different student unions and movements all over South Africa.

On 16th June 1976 students from Soweto started to protest against the government, who were joined in by nearly 30, 000 students from all over the area. The protest was supposed to end after reaching the Orlando stadium. However, on their way to the stadium, the students were targeted by the police. The heavily armed police fired tear gas and bullets at the students, leading to 700 protesters’ deaths, mainly young students. As a result, there was a widespread revolt, which escalated into an insurrection against the government. While the revolt began in Soweto, it quickly swept throughout the country and lasted until the next year.

June 16, 1976, Uprising, which began in Soweto and extended throughout the country, significantly altered South Africa’s sociopolitical environment. The uprising highlighted the dark face of the South African apartheid government and helped the people of South Africa to remove the government.

The new administration introduced Youth Day as an official holiday of the nation when the Apartheid came to its end in the early 1990s.

Youth day 2021

This year on youth day the government aims at tackling the increasing problem of unemployment in the South African youth.

South African president Cyril Ramaphosa, while talking about this day, remembered the uprisings and sacrifice of the youth. While remembering the protests he stated that the chances for young black people today have been greatly defined and significantly enhanced, because of the sacrifices of the 1976 generation. He highlighted that today’s young generation of South Africa is facing numerous challenges where the greatest of all is rising unemployment due to COVID 19.

Thus this year on the special occasion of “youth’s day 2021” the government is providing several new initiatives to create opportunities for the youth where they can develop and enhance their skills, along with programs to help young entrepreneurs and also to help young people to participate in the south African economy.

Last year Presidential Youth Employment Intervention was introduced under which, this year, National Pathway Management Network, SA Youth is introduced which will facilitate young people to view and access different chances and opportunities and help them find their way into the labor market.

Ramaphosa in his letter said that young people are the greatest asset for South Africa and also the greatest weapon in the fight of enhancing the economic conditions that are worsened due to COVID 19. Thus on this Youth day, the government fully supports the youth to rise and make the future brighter for South Africa.

The Diplomatic Insight is a digital and print magazine focusing on diplomacy, defense, and development since 2009.

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