Apartheid Education System in South Africa

One of the memorable picture that had a lasting impact on me was that of a famous photograph by Sam Nzima of the Soweto Uprising showing a student carrying the body of 12-year-old Hector Peterson, one of the first casualties against the apartheid system of South Africa.

June 1976 marked the beginning of a sustained revolt against racial segregation, when the school pupils of Soweto rose up against apartheid education, followed by youth uprisings all over the country. This incident made people around the world starting paying attention to the apartheid. Thousands of Soweto students came out to protest against the introduction of Afrikaans language which was made mandatory.

Several laws were made which prohibited and enforced the segregation and the separation of educational standards. One of these was the Bantu Education Act, Act No 47 of 1953. This law established a Black Education Department in the Department of Native Affairs, which would compile a curriculum that suited the "nature and requirements of the black people.” The author of the legislation, Dr. Hendrik Verwoerd (then Minister of Native Affairs, later Prime Minister), stated that its aim was to prevent Africans receiving an education that would lead them to aspire to positions they wouldn't be allowed to hold in society. Instead, Africans were to receive an education designed to provide them with skills to serve their own people in the homelands or to work in laboring jobs under whites. The protests by a group of Black people in the small African town of Soweto against the use of Afrikaans language and a huge demonstration and rise of slogans which led to the throwing of tear gas by the police on the mob which instantly led to violence reminds us this apartheid system of education system is injustice to the people of South Africa.

There was 13-year-old student named Hector Peterson who was with the protesters. Police fired tear gas during the skirmishes as the protest turned violent. The students hurled stones at the police and protestors were shot with the bullets. At this critical moment of the protest Nazima took picture of the student Peterson who was shot dead by the police and terrified high schooler Mbuyisa Makhubu picked up the lifeless boy and ran with Peterson’s sister, Antoinette Sithole. This peaceful protest turned into a violent protest and claimed hundreds of lives across south Africa The picture’s publication forced Nzima into hiding amid death threats, but its effect was throughout the world and people outside Africa could no longer ignore apartheid.


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