On June 16, 1971 more than 20,000 South African students in the township of Soweto took to the streets — demanding to be taught in their own language. Armed police officers responded by murdering hundreds of protesters. Now a public holiday in South Africa, referred to as Youth Day, it’s also recognized as International Day of the African Child throughout the world. The day focuses attention on the barriers African children face in order to receive a quality education.
International Day of the African Child timeline
In Soweto, South Africa, ten thousand black school children march more than half a mile long, protesting the poor quality of their education and demanding their right to be taught in their own language.
The Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality is founded to develop standards for quality education on the continent.
Oprah Winfrey launches the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, a boarding school in South Africa.
The United Nations calls for universal, public primary eduction for every child in Africa.
How to Observe International Day of the African Child
Make a donation
There are many charities that support education for children in Africa. The K.I.N.D. project, launched by UNICEF, and Lawrence O'Donnell of NBC news, purchases desks and benches for children in Malawi. Consider writing a check.
Volunteer at a local school
You don't have to live in Africa to observe International Day of the African Child. Check out volunteer opportunities at your local schools or day care centers. Spend a little quality time with some kids.
Learn more about the issues
We're all part of the human race. The more we learn and understand each other the more we can work toward a harmonious planet. Spend a little time to learn more about the African continent, its history, and the challenges faced by its children.
5 Ways To Support Education In Africa
Kids in Need of Desks provides desks and benches to children in Malawi.
Helping girls in Kenya
The Maasai Girls Education Fund works to improve the literacy, health, and economic well-being of Maasai women in Kenya.
Opportunities in Ethiopia
The Fregenet Foundation supports educational opportunities for needy children in Ethiopia.
Textbooks for children
Books for Africa is the world's largest shipper of books to Africa.
Helping kids with AIDS
Africa Classroom Connection builds and improves schools in South Africa and Malawi, many that serve children affected by the AIDS virus.
Why International Day of the African Child is Important
Education as a human right
Throughout most of the world, free and public education is seen as a basic human right. International Day of the African Child encourages governments throughout the continent to provide quality education for children.
It has important roots
The day harkens back to the Soweto uprising in South Africa in 1971, when students took to the streets to protest discriminatory education policies by the South African government.
It highlights the value of education
Education is the key for children to grow up to be successful. There are mountains of data that show children who receive quality education at all levels have a better chance of success. International Day of the African Child reminds us that African children deserve a good education.
International Day of the African Child dates