Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Resource of the Week - International Day of the African Child, 16 June - the Ultimate Sacrifice: Resources

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Resource of the Week - International Day of the African Child, 16 June - the Ultimate Sacrifice: Resources

Article excerpt

Explore children's rights in the context of the Soweto uprising.

How would your students feel if someone decided that they only deserved to attend a "poor school", to work in the fields and to be taught in a language that was not their own?

For Hector Pieterson, a black 13-year-old living in Soweto, South Africa, who wanted the same educational rights as white children, there was only one response: joining thousands of other young "rebels" to protest against the introduction of Afrikaans as the main teaching language in schools. In the apartheid era, many black people saw Afrikaans as the language of the "oppressor".

It was 16 June 1976, and within hours Soweto was burning. As police officers opened fire, and desperate youngsters ran for cover, Hector was shot dead.

The number of people killed in the uprising and its aftermath has been estimated to be up to 700. Many of those who died were children. But their sacrifice was not in vain: a resistance movement ultimately helped to bring an end to the apartheid regime. Their courage is remembered every year on the International Day of the African Child.

Much has changed in South Africa. Poor schools now receive more funding, an inclusive curriculum has been introduced and exam passes continue to rise. …

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