The Congress of South African Students (COSAS) was established in June 1979 as a national organization to represent the interests of Black school students in the wake of the Soweto uprisings.
Students marching to a funeral of COSAS member in KwaMashu, KwaZulu Natala, 1981. Photographer: Omar Badsha
In 1982, COSAS adopted the theme; Student-Worker Action and promoted the formation of youth congresses to serve the interests of young workers and unemployed youth. These facilitated cooperation between school students, young workers and the unemployed youth.
1984 + 1985
By the time of its banning in 1985, it was estimated that the organization enjoyed the support of almost 3 million students, or more than half the country’s Black students.
During the resistance campaign, launched by extra-parliamentary groups under the auspices of the Mass Democratic Movement (MDM) in August 1989, COSAS unbanned itself.
Above all, we are proud that, today, COSAS is making its mark as a leader in the reconstruction and development of education, as a builder par excellence.
Through positive and creative campaigns, you are showing that when you mobilised for militant action against apartheid education, you did not see this as an end in itself. When you refused to succumb to the apartheid jackboot, it is because you knew you had a role not only in eradicating racist education, but also in the introduction of the new system. As we join efforts to build a new educational system in a new society, COSAS has not been found wanting.”