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These instructions drew immediate negative reaction from various quarters of the community.The first body to react was the Tswana School Boards, which comprised school boards from Meadowlands, Dobsonville and other areas in Soweto.
Throughout the country there was a dire shortage of classrooms for Black children.
There was also a lack of teachers and many of the teachers were under-qualified.
The protest was intended to be peaceful and had been carefully planned by the Soweto Students’ Representative Council’s (SSRC) Action Committee, with support from the wider Black Consciousness Movement.
Teachers in Soweto also supported the march after the Action Committee emphasized good discipline and peaceful action.
Some Black teachers, who were members of the African Teachers Association of South Africa, complained that they were not fluent in Afrikaans.
The students initially organised themselves into local cultural groups and youth clubs.
They rejected the idea of being taught in the language of the oppressor.
The uprising took place at a time when liberation movements were banned throughout the country and South Africa was in the grip of apartheid.
Nationally, pupil-to-teacher ratios went up from 46:1 in 1955 to 58:1 in 1967.
Because of the lack of proper classrooms and the crippling government homeland policy, students were forced to return to “their homelands” to attend the newly built schools there.