#YouthDay: 'Remember the sacrifices made by the class of 1976'

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the June 16th Soweto Uprising.

FILE: Wits students hold up a banner inside Senate House on 19 October 2015 during protests over proposed fee increases at the institution for the 2016 year. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

CAPE TOWN/JOHANNESBURG/NEW YORK - As the country observes Youth Day, the Basic Education Department has called on the community of Vuwani in Limpopo to remember the sacrifices made by the class of 1976, to ensure that every child has a right to quality teaching and learning.

Seven weeks after violent protests in the Limpopo town, at least 52,000 pupils are still not back in class.

More than 20 schools were either torched or vandalised during demarcation demonstrations.

The department says it's particularly worried about matrics as their mid-year exams are approaching.

Spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga says, "We are worried that schools are going to close and there will be another break of no learning. If we [don't] include that time that has been lost then those learners will be terribly affected. Let us please work together and think about the impact on our learners."


In light of recent protests African National Congress (ANC) veteran Mathews Phosa says attempts by government to address students' grievances may have come a little too late.

Several campuses across the country were shut down during student protests last year over the high cost of university tuition fees.

Phosa says the ' Fees Must Fall' movement brought relevant issues to the fore.

"I welcome the commission by the president, but it's too late. They must do their jobs. It's important to resolve the issues and to not be dismissive."

But he has also cautioned against allowing 'opportunists' to derail the student movement.

"If you are going to analyse the situation closely, there was a lot of opportunism. It is our responsibility to protest without violence."


The 40th anniversary of the June 16th Soweto Uprising is being commemorated beyond South Africa today, as well.

In Philadelphia, 7,000 students have seen the _Sarafina _musical, while National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete is hosting an event in Baltimore to look at the legacy of this day.

A screening of the documentary on the recent #FeesMustFall protests _The People versus The Rainbow Nation _will also go up as part of an exhibition in New York today.