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Soweto Uprising

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Soweto Uprising

The Soweto uprising or Soweto riots were a series of clashes in Soweto, South Africa on June 16, 1976 between black youths and the South African authorities. The riots grew out of protests against the policies of the National Party government and its apartheid regime.

June 16 is now celebrated in South Africa as Youth Day.

The origin of the protests are traced back to 1949 and the Eiselen Commission's enquiry into the edification of non-whites. The commission recommended drastic changes, which were implemented through the Bantu Education Act of 1953. The legislation caused many mission schools, through which the majority of black children were educated, to lose government aid and close. Funding for black schools was drawn from taxes paid by black people, who were generally impoverished. The result was a very uneven distribution of teaching resources in black and white schools.

Similarly, the Coloured Person's Education Act of 1963 made coloured education the responsibility of the Department of Coloured Affairs and barred coloured children from white schools. In 1965 the Indian Education Act consigned Indian education to the Department of Indian Affairs.

The funding available for Bantu education was diverted to building schools in Bantustans between 1962 and 1971, and no new schools were constructed in urban areas for non-white students during this time. In 1972 the state committed itself to generating better qualified labourers by improving the education system and between 1972 and 1976 forty new schools were built in Soweto. The learning population in the township multiplied threefold, but still only one in five Soweto children attended schools.

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