June 16th: Soweto Day, Part 2 of 6: Cruelty and Chaos in Schools

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June 16th

Soweto Day

A resource-book for educators, in 6 parts

Part 2 of 6: Cruelty and Chaos

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Part 2

Chaos and Cruelty in Schools

Because of the government’s homelands policy, no new high schools were built in Soweto between 1962 and 1971.

But in the 1970s the state decided it needed better educated workers.

National enrolment of 178 959 in 1974 increased to 389 066 in 1976, a 140% increase in two years.

Between 1972 and 1974, 40 new schools were built in Soweto alone, and secondary enrolments grew from 12 656 to 34 656, a jump of nearly 300%.

School population increased more than the capacity of the schools to cope.

As a result of all of the above there was chaos and gross overcrowding, and stress on capacity of teachers to teach.

At the same time the government appointed Andries Treurnicht, ex-chairman of the Broederbond, and future founder, with Clive Derby-Lewis (the murderer of Chris Hani), of the Conservative Party, as Deputy Minister of Education.

1974: Treurnicht decrees that Afrikaans should be a medium of instruction in schools, 50:50 with English. Black African students are now required to have three languages, while white students only have to have one. Whites get free education; blacks have to pay.

1975: Government spent R644 a year on a white child’s education but only R42 on a black child.

In 1975, the Bantu Education Department decided to reduce the number of school years from 13 to 12. Consequently, at the beginning of 1976, two years of students went up to Secondary School, at the same time.

In Soweto schools, mother tongue had been the medium of instruction at junior primary prior to 1975. In 1976 the policy of teaching half the curriculum in Afrikaans, and the other half in English, was to be introduced. Students going up from primary had to learn two new languages – which is an impossibility.

This was the scene created by the apartheid regime prior to the June 16th 1976 events.

Afrikaans Medium Decree of 1974:

Forced all black schools to use Afrikaans and English in a 50–50 mix as languages of instruction

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