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The Day of the African Child: The What & The Why


On June 16, 1976, in Soweto, South Africa, some ten thousand black school children marched in a column more than half a mile long, protesting the poor quality of their education in apartheid South Africa, while demanding their right to be taught in their own language.


The students were met with militant police brutality. More than a hundred students were killed and more than a thousand were injured in the protests that day and in the following two weeks.


Fierce domestic and international outrage at the murder of children was a precipitous moment in bringing global pressure to end apartheid in South Africa.


In 1991, June 16 officially became The International Day of the African Child, memorializing the protestors’ voices while raising awareness for the continuing need to improve children’s rights and education across the African continent.


To celebrate and amplify the message this year, Kenya Works joined with government and civil society partners in multiple, youth-centered community events throughout Kenya.





ON MAGETA ISLAND, the date coincided with Kenya Works human rights training. This is a remote area characterized with limited access to education, healthcare—and a rising concern over child sexual abuse. So, when the area chief asked the team to do an impromptu gathering with the island's children, the team was thrilled.


“We unexpectedly got to meet more than 600 students and put them front and center in children’s rights advocacy,” said Diana Wambui, a Kenya Works facilitator. “To see their delighted faces, to demonstrate their importance by showing up for them, showing them they are seen, they are deserving. This was a highlight on a visit filled with many bright moments.”

 

IN KAJIADO COUNTY, three events brought together more than 3,000 African children, their parents, teachers, community members, local leaders and youth-empowerment organizations.



The events built awareness and community-wide support for children’s rights, education, safety and security. They also provided a platform for lifting youth voices, reinforcing their intrinsic value as children of Kenya and as part of the broader African community.




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