Youth Day

National and public holidays in South Africa National Holiday in South Africa

South Africa

When is Youth Day?

National Holiday celebrated on 16th June.

The holiday may be observed on a weekday if Youth Day falls on a weekend.

Previously known as Soweto Day, Youth Day marks the start of the Soweto riots of 1976.

History of Youth Day

The riots where ignited by a government ruling that all teaching in black schools would be held in Afrikaans.

The issue was not so much the teaching in Afrikaans, but rather the whole system of education which was characterised by separate schools and universities, poor facilities, overcrowded classrooms and inadequately trained teachers for the black majority.

On 16th June 1976 nearly 30,000 pupils from Soweto joined a protest march. After several clashes with the police and sporadic violence over the next few weeks, approximately 700 hundred people, many of them youths, had been killed and there was widespread destruction of property.

The iconic picture of a black schoolchild shot by the police (Hector Pieterson), highlighted the brutalities of the Apartheid regime to many people within and outside South Africa.

Youth Day commemorates these events by giving school children all over South Africa the day off.

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