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By All Africa Students Union (AASU)
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On June 16, 1976 the security forces of then obnoxious apartheid regime in South Africa opened fire on defenseless and peaceful pupils demonstrating in Soweto against the racist educational system. Several of them were killed while many others maimed. The world was outraged at the intensity of the brutality meted out to them by the apartheid system and said never again to that kind of dastardly act on planet Earth.

From that moment the momentous of the worldwide struggle against the apartheid system intensified to the point of no return. In the wake of that momentum the 6th congress of the All Africa Students Union (AASU) held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 1982 declared June 16 'African Student Day' as a tribute to the victims of that woeful Day and to all the students on the African continent who have lost their lives or been maimed in the course of their struggle for the respect of their rights and interests. Since then it has been commemorated as such by the Union and its members. It was subsequently adopted and commemorated by the Organization of African Unity (now African Union) as African Child Day since 1991.

Today as we are marking this Day, African Institutions of Learning particularly the public Universities are plunged in deep crisis as the living and studying conditions of students continue to deteriorate by day and bleak prospects for employment lie in wait for them. As a result university students are despaired and disenchanted, a situation leading quite often to demonstrations to make their concerns known. Furthermore students have been, throughout history, among the strongest voices of their people, ardent defenders of social justice and champions of democratization of education etc. No amount of intimidation or violence has ever deterred them from seeking the respect of their rights and interests and promoting human rights. It is therefore imperative for the Authorities to adopt reconciliatory approaches in dealing with student crises to avoid unnecessary lost of lives, destructions of properties and disruption of academic calendars.

Education must be given all the importance it deserves, without education Africa will remain as it is- backward and provider of raw material to other continents. African leaders must stop paying lip service but act in concert within the framework of upholding and protecting the interests of their people. African states, considered separately, have shown their limits in the face of the current global challenges. Therefore it is urgent to fasten their socio-economic and political integration so that they can put their resources together, undertake joint actions and speak with one voice. These ideas have been agreed upon by African leaders since the 60s but yet to be implemented due the lack of political will and the protection of personal interests.

No country has developed without giving education all the attention it deserves because it is the bedrock of any meaningful development. No country has developed, also, only relying on foreign supports. Africa, a continent abounded in human and natural resources, cannot develop without well educated African managers and workforces.

AASU urges all African governments to genuinely invest in and democratize education by making it accessible in order to safeguard the future of the continent and its people and favour the use of dialogue as a viable method to resolve student crises;

AASU demands the immediate release of all students currently arrested or jailed for their involvement in the strikes wherever they are and the withdrawal of security forces from the campuses wherever that is the case and

AASU calls, equally, on the students to desist from the use of violent methods in seeking redress for their grievances by adhering to lawful and peaceful means.

Education is a right not a privilege!
Long live African students' movement!
(Secretary General)

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