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From struggle to progress: June 16, 1976 and the evolution of education in South Africa

By Lydia Gwambe, Bridging Year Academy coordinator at our Dumphries Digital Learning Campus

On June 16, 1976, the streets of Soweto echoed with the courageous voices of thousands of students protesting against the oppressive Bantu Education system. The Soweto uprising marked a pivotal moment in South Africa’s history, highlighting past struggles and paving the way for today’s progress in education.

The Bantu Education system, enforced by the apartheid government, aimed to produce subservient and uneducated black citizens. Schools were poorly funded and the curriculum focused on manual labour and obedience. The protests of 1976 demanded equal access to quality education, an end to Bantu Education and the recognition of the basic human rights of black students.

Youth Day wall poster
Youth Day – commemorating the sacrifices of the young people of 1976


Fast-forward to today, and South Africa’s educational landscape has transformed significantly. The democratic government has made substantial strides in addressing the disparities of the past. Key advancements include equal access to education for all (regardless of race or background); improved funding and resources for schools; and a curriculum that emphasises critical thinking, inclusivity, and a focus on equity, redress and social cohesion.

Organisations such as Good Work Foundation (GWF) play a crucial role in this transformation. GWF focuses on education and community development in Africa, provides innovative learning solutions and empowers individuals to become active citizens who contribute to a better world.

Through digital learning, GWF integrates technology into education, offering access to digital resources and online courses. We are committed to making a significant impact in Africa with a vision to expand our reach beyond it and to create a brighter future for all.

As South Africans, we remain forever grateful for the bravery and selflessness of the students of 1976. Their protest sparked a movement that ultimately led to the dismantling of apartheid and the birth of a democratic South Africa. We honour their legacy by continuing to fight for equal access to quality education and by working towards a future where every learner has the opportunity to thrive.

Education today is a dynamic and rapidly evolving field, shaped by technological advancements, changing societal needs and innovative approaches. Good Work Foundation embraces change, guiding the youth towards a world filled with opportunities despite the challenges we come across. Our dedicated and passionate staff members are committed to providing the best quality education and building confidence in every individual who walks through the doors of our campuses.

From struggle to progress Feature image
Each year students on GWF campuses commemorate Soweto Uprising with a special school uniform tribute


Learners dress up for Youth Day 2024
GWF learners and staff dress up in school attire inspired by the 1976 Soweto students and perform a Sarafina musical-inspired dance



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