International Day of the African Child

International Day of the African Child - Sunday, June 16, 2024

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On June 16, 1971 more than 20,000 South African students in the township of Soweto took to the streets — demanding to be taught in their own language. Armed police officers responded by murdering hundreds of protesters. Now a public holiday in South Africa, referred to as Youth Day, it’s also recognized as International Day of the African Child throughout the world. The day focuses attention on the barriers African children face in order to receive a quality education.

International Day of the African Child timeline


Universal education

The United Nations calls for universal, public primary eduction for every child in Africa.


Oprah starts a school

Oprah Winfrey launches the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, a boarding school in South Africa.


Standards introduced

The Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality is founded to develop standards for quality education on the continent.

5 Ways To Support Education In Africa

  1. K.I.N.D

    Kids in Need of Desks provides desks and benches to children in Malawi.

  2. Helping girls in Kenya

    The Maasai Girls Education Fund works to improve the literacy, health, and economic well-being of Maasai women in Kenya.

  3. Opportunities in Ethiopia

    The Fregenet Foundation supports educational opportunities for needy children in Ethiopia.

  4. Textbooks for children

    Books for Africa is the world's largest shipper of books to Africa.

  5. Helping kids with AIDS

    Africa Classroom Connection builds and improves schools in South Africa and Malawi, many that serve children affected by the AIDS virus.

How to Observe International Day of the African Child

  1. Make a donation

    There are many charities that support education for children in Africa. The K.I.N.D. project, launched by UNICEF, and Lawrence O'Donnell of NBC news, purchases desks and benches for children in Malawi. Consider writing a check.

  2. Volunteer at a local school

    You don't have to live in Africa to observe International Day of the African Child. Check out volunteer opportunities at your local schools or day care centers. Spend a little quality time with some kids.

  3. Learn more about the issues

    We're all part of the human race. The more we learn and understand each other the more we can work toward a harmonious planet. Spend a little time to learn more about the African continent, its history, and the challenges faced by its children.

Why International Day of the African Child is Important

  1. Education as a human right

    Throughout most of the world, free and public education is seen as a basic human right. International Day of the African Child encourages governments throughout the continent to provide quality education for children.

  2. It has important roots

    The day harkens back to the Soweto uprising in South Africa in 1971, when students took to the streets to protest discriminatory education policies by the South African government.

  3. It highlights the value of education

    Education is the key for children to grow up to be successful. There are mountains of data that show children who receive quality education at all levels have a better chance of success. International Day of the African Child reminds us that African children deserve a good education.

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