The International Day of the African Child was established to highlight the significance of what it means to be a child in Africa, and to raise awareness of the need for quality education in Africa.
On June 16, 1976, more than 20,000 Black students from Soweto, South Africa took to the streets to protest the disparity in their education system and poor quality of education they were receiving. The children walked for more than a mile as they demanded to be taught in their own language so they could better understand. Armed police officers responded by murdering hundreds of protestors and injuring thousands more. Images of the incident were captured and released worldwide causing an uproar against the killings and inequality in the apartheid regime.
In June 1991, the Organization of African Unity (OAU) designated June 16th as a public holiday which has been recognized as International Day of the African Child all over the world. The day honors those who lost their lives in the Soweto uprising and focuses on raising awareness of the challenges and barriers that African children face every day to receive a quality education.
More than tens of millions of children in the world are uneducated and half of them live in Africa. The purpose of this day is to educate and inform the rest of the world about the struggles these children face and establish measures to improve the education systems on the continent.
People worldwide recognize and celebrate this important day by highlighting awareness about the education system in Africa and sharing their views on social media using the hashtags #InternationalDayOfTheAfricanChild and #educationforAfrica.
How you can observe International Day of the African Child
There are many charities that support the betterment of education for children in Africa.
- Save the Children responds to the immense need to improve access to education
- The Fregenet Foundation supports educational opportunities for needy children in Ethiopia
- The K.I.N.D. project, launched by UNICEF, purchases desks and benches for children in Malawi.
- The Massai Girls Education Fund works to improve literacy, health and oppression of Massai women in Kenya.
- Books for Africa is the largest shipper of donated text and library books to the African continent. You can donate books or make a monetary donation.
Education is a human right many of us take for granted because we never had to fight for it. It is the foundation for growing up prepared to face the challenges of this world and to be successful. International Day of the African Child is our reminder that we should never forget, every African child deserves a good education.
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