Gauteng pupils yesterday pledged to fight crime and sustain academic excellence at the commemoration of Youth Day at the Hector Pieterson Museum in Soweto, Johannesburg.
The commemoration was attended by Gauteng premier Nomvula Mokonyane, City of Johannesburg mayor Amos Masondo, and Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane.
The pledges were read by 16 pupils from 16 Gauteng schools.
The pupils also undertook to wear their school uniforms with pride.
Vuyiswa Vilakazi, president of the Gauteng Representative Council of Learners, said the youth have been given choices in the education system because of the sacrifices made by the fallen heroes.
"As beneficiaries of these pioneers' actions we accept the task of finishing what they started," she said.
Kgomotso Mogase-Jolobe, a member of the 1976 June 16 Foundation, said: "Now we are starting a new struggle to break out of the educational circumstances that are keeping the best minds in our nation from fulfilling their true potential."
She called on pupils to join the foundation and honour the pledges.
She said that the murder of pupils in Soweto had ignited "a national students' conscience", which led to pupils embarking on country-wide demonstrations.
The event was also attended by Thato Mokgele Makhubu, the son of Mbuyisa Makhubu. Makhubu carried the injured Pieterson, the first victim of police violence on June 16.
Makhubu said he was honoured by the commemoration of the day.
"We are here to mourn because we lost loved ones, but we are also here to celebrate their lives," he said.