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The Fight for Education — the Worthy Battle that Became Youth Day

Imagine, for a moment, that you had to fight against being taught in a language you didn’t understand.
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Just imagine the world was divided into groups

One group has strong, dark eyes, another group has soft, light eyes, and a third group has as many colours as the rainbow. Imagine it was then law for your group to receive old broken down devices, outdated software that’s incompatible with your already struggling hardware and super slow Wifi. And on top of all of that, one day, someone came into your home and announced that your computer and cellphone would be in a foreign language, and then, they changed the settings icon? Wouldn’t that just absolutely vex you? 

That’s what the youth of 1976 had to go through

Their education and future hung in the balance and they had to either forfeit any hopes of better or fight. They chose to fight!

A group of learners just like you, an estimated 20 000, decided that they would rather have a real chance of building a good life for themselves and that started with getting a good education. After all, we understand the importance of education in South Africa. They were tired of getting inferior education, the treatment of the apartheid government and the introduction of Afrikaans as the medium of instruction was the straw. They organised a march through the streets of Soweto and were met with horrific violence.

That monumental day has inspired a lot of plays, movies and shows globally, including the award-winning Sarafina, and in line with the South African philosophy of finding joy in even the most horrendous events, a wonderful tradition has come of it. People, even those who’ve been out of school for quite some time, put on their school uniform in memoriam – a practice that brings us together and allows us to pay tribute in a way that only we could. 

It has been forty-six years, and every June 16th, we honour those who gave their lives on that day.

Those learners in Soweto, and later, around the country, stood up and made a real difference.

While you’ll most probably never have to throw punches or run from teargas in order to learn, there is a real battle to make your dream life possible. Between procrastinating, being unmotivated and the countless distractions that just happen or have been designed to take up chunks of your time — read social media — it sometimes takes a bit of fight to get some learning done. Take up that fight. Yes, complete all your prescribed modules and pass all your cycle tests, but also teach yourself things that interest you outside of school. Read those books, watch those doccies, listen to those podcasts that seek to enrich you, have those convos with the elderly who might know a little more about life than you do, build that thing, create that art, make that music. 

Become the best version of yourself. It’s work worth doing.

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