On June 16, 1976, more than 500 high school students died from teargas and bullets during a protest for better education. Today, a South African national holiday, Youth Day, commemorates the lives of these students who struggled against Apartheid and Bantu education. The Apartheid government enacted The Bantu Education Act, which established a Black Education Department of Native Affairs. The author of the legislation, Dr. Hendrik Verwoerd, felt “natives [Blacks] must be taught from an early age that equality with Europeans [Whites] is not for them.”
The department was made of a curriculum the government felt suitable for Black people. Although the Bantu Education enabled more Black children to attend school in Soweto, it still had lack of facilities and teachers, and overcrowded classrooms. After years of struggle, students began holding meetings and eventually began to a protest that ended many lives, yet, today does not live in vain. There fight has open many doors for the new generation.—Shavon S. Greene
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