Celebrating International Day of the African Child

Celebrating International Day of the African Child

The Day of the African Child has been celebrated on June 16 every year since 1991, when it was first established by the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). It honours those who participated in the Soweto Uprising in South Africa in 1976 on that day. It also raises awareness of the continuing need for improvement of the education provided to African children.

In Soweto, South Africa, on June 16, 1976, about ten thousand black school children marched in a column more than half a mile long, protesting the poor quality of their education and demanding their right to be taught in their own language. Hundreds of young students were shot. More than a hundred people were killed in the protests of the following two weeks, and more than a thousand were injured.

Since 1991, the Day of the African Child has been celebrated to commemorate those killed during the Soweto Uprising, and to recognize the courage of the students who marched for their right to an education. The Day of the African Child is also an opportunity to raise awareness for the ongoing need to improve the education of children living across Africa. It’s a need that still very much exists today. Of the 57 million primary school age children currently out of school around the world, over half are from sub-Saharan Africa.

Educating children lifts them out of poverty

There are a number of reasons why children go uneducated. Their parents may not be able to afford school fees, the distance to the nearest school may be too far, or early marriage may keep girls especially from the classroom. These and many more barriers to education have an enormous impact on children especially girls.  

Though progress has been made since the Soweto Uprising, 1 in 10 children are still missing from the classroom. Much more work needs to be done to ensure all children are receiving a quality education. We know the transformational power education can have on children, and it’s proven that with an education:

  • Children, especially girls, are more likely to stay healthy, be more independent and become a force for social change.
  • If all children in low-income countries left school with basic reading skills, 171 million people could be lifted out of poverty.
  • When a girl in the developing world receives 7 years of education, she marries 4 years later and has 2.2 fewer, healthier children.


According to World Health Organisation: “the day aims at raising awareness for the situation of children in African, and on the need for continuing improvement in education. It encourages people’s spirit of abundance to share something special with a child in Africa.”

On June 16th every year, governments, NGOs, international organisations and other stakeholders gather to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the full realization of the rights of children in Africa.

As a religious body, we took part in the celebration with a prayer service to remember those children who were killed in the uprising in Soweto as well as committing ourselves to promoting and safeguarding children’s right to education within our communities.  




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