Soweto – Government has called on South Africans to come out in their numbers on Thursday this week to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the 1976 student uprising which is celebrated every year on 16 June.
Speaking at the official press conference on Tuesday, Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe announced a series of activities that will take place during the 40th anniversary. He said the programme on Thursday will commence with the unveiling of Dr M Eldestein plaque in Western Jabavu.
Dr Edelstein worked in Soweto and was in the township when the riots began. He was beaten to death by pupils when violence flared up. Minister Radebe chairs the Inter-ministerial Committee responsible for the commemoration of the events of 1976. Other activities to take place this coming Thursday include the renaming of Thabethe Street in Orlando West to Ndlovu Street to commemorate Hastings Ndlovu.
The traditional wreath laying ceremony at the Hector Petersen Memorial will be led by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa. President Jacob Zuma will crown the day by delivering a speech at Orlando Stadium. The June 16 tragedy is important in the South African political calendar. This is because South Africans don’t only use the day to reflect on the scores of students who died on the day when police shot at them during a march against Apartheid government’s language policy. The moment is also used to highlight the role played by young people in the country’s fight for freedom and democracy.
Minister Radebe told journalists at a media briefing on Tuesday that government remains committed and reassured all young people that the sacrifices of the youth of 1976 was not in vein.
Access to education expanded
“Government has expanded access to education to many young people in basic education and at tertiary education level.
“Unlike the June 16 generation young people can study any course they want as long as they qualify. There is no job reservation they have to contend with, nor is there restriction on where they can study and which university they can enrol in,” he said.
He said government had spent over R9 billion in NSFAS to support students in post school institutions to ensure poor learners attain education.
“Many schools in our country are no fee schools, food nutrition is provided to the poor. These are some of the interventions government has made available for the youth of today.
“This is not to say this government has achieved all goals in education, and there are still persistent challenges, this government is working hard to change the reality faced by the current youth,” said Minister Radebe.
He added that as the country marks the 40th anniversary, the youth of today should not forget the sacrifices made for them to be where they are today.
“As their voice rise pushing for more access to education and opportunities, let them be assured that this government is listening and will continue to listen and respond. The youth of today are future leaders and therefore should be natured.”