Photo by Björn Westerdahl

June 16 marks the 36th anniversary of a youth-led movement that shook Africa. On that day in 1976 thousands of students from Soweto, South Africa marched the streets in protest of their substandard education system and demanded to be taught in their own language. Hundreds were killed and many more were injured in the demonstrations that followed. In 1991, the Organization of African Unity, now the African Union, declared June 16 Day of the African Child to commemorate these events and celebrate African youth.

Through our nonformal education program, the Community Empowerment Program (CEP), youth across East and West Africa are able to gain new understandings of their human rights in their own languages.  Also as part of the Child Protection Module of the CEP, full communities are trained on the specific rights of children and together create a community plan to ensure young people are empowered and safe. As we continue our commitment to empowering youth through our work, we ask you to join us in raising awareness and celebrating the achievements of young Africans. Follow Tostan on Twitter and Facebook for more information on upcoming events celebrating African youth.

Click here to learn how Tostan celebrated 2011 Day of the African Child at a Dakar youth prison.