Black students in the Soweto African township near Johannesburg began returning to their classrooms on Thursday (6 January) after six months of refusing to attend school.
Black students in the Soweto African township near Johannesburg began returning to their classrooms on Thursday (6 January) after six months of refusing to attend school. But it was only a partial return to normality. Many other students -- mostly the older ones -- stayed away, apparently waiting to asses the popularity of the move back to school.
SYNOPSIS: The boycott followed rioting in the township that began last June. Since then the government has introduced several reforms, making education compulsory for African children and providing text books free for senior students. Police stayed away form the schools as teaching got underway, although patrols were seen in nearby streets.
It was a protest against government education policy that sparked off the Soweto riots last year -- riots which spread to most of South Africa's population centres resulting in the death and injury of hundreds of people. But with police assurances that they will not interfere, teachers in Soweto now believe that gradually all their pupils will drift back into school. There has been speculation that teachers in black schools might leave the profession because of the unrest -- but most still seem dedicated to their work.