Day of the African Child: Celebrating 50 years of African Unity

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“I dream of an Africa which is in peace with itself.” – Nelson Mandela

This post was written by Jalyn Evans, World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh Intern

June 16, 1976, 10,000 students took to the streets of Soweto, South Africa, refusing to attend poorly funded schools which administered education in a language they did not know. The Bantu Education Act of 1953, a pillar of the Apartheid project, required non-white students to be educated in a way that suited their culture, ultimately preparing non-white South Africans for manual labor roles in the society. Penalties imposed on political protests, even non-violent protests, were severe, ranging from life sentences in prison to beatings and death. The protest in Soweto turned violent when students were greeted by police forces armed with teargas and loaded firearms. Over 20 students were killed in the chaos between police and protesters.  This was a major strike in the fight to dismantle the apartheid government, which legally instituted racial segregation in 1948.

Soweto’s 1976 movement for education equality is kept alive in spirit by the South African holiday, Youth Day (June 16th) and namely the African Union (AU), a renowned organization dedicated to the “development and integration” of the African continent. The AU commemorated this year’s Day of the African Child (DAC) centering initiatives on “child friendly, quality, free, and compulsory education for all children in Africa.” The event which is held annually at the Union’s headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia entailed:

  • inter-generational dialogue between children and experts;
  • a talent show;
  • a mini-marathon;
  • and a press conference.

See the video linked below for more information:

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From DAC to IDAY: A Growing Movement

The Day of the African Child has become an international movement through the support and emergence of organizations and non-profits from nation to nation.  Established in 2005, the non-profit organization IDay has a network of 8 European and 16 African countries with more than 240 member associations. Click here to see example of IDAY supporters.

IDAY’s vision

A world where all barriers to education are eliminated and where all African youth have access to quality basic education.

Get Involved!

Here are some ways that you support the Day of the African Child and IDAY movement in your country:

  • Organize an IDAY celebration in your country;
  • Help the IDAY International team with translations, design, information technology, organization of the June 16 events;
  • Raise awareness about IDAY and get in contact with other organizations in Europe or in Africa that operate in the field of education in Africa and might be interested in joining IDAY!
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