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Youth Day is a National Holiday celebrated on 16th June. The holiday may be observed on a weekday if Youth Day falls on a weekend. Previously known as Soweto Day, Youth Day marks the start of the Soweto riots of 1976.
History of Youth Day
In 1975 protests started in African schools after a directive from the then Bantu Education Department that Afrikaans had to be used on an equal basis with English as a language of instruction in secondary schools. The issue, however, was not so much the Afrikaans as the whole system of Bantu education which was characterised by separate schools and universities, poor facilities, overcrowded classrooms and inadequately trained teachers. On 16 June 1976 more than 20 000 pupils from Soweto began a protest march. In the wake of clashes with the police, and the violence that ensued during the next few weeks, approximately 700 hundred people, many of them youths, were killed and property destroyed.
Youth Day, previously known as Soweto Day, commemorates these events.