Last year the fees must fall movement put the spotlight on the huge discrepancy between the cost of tertiary education and the annual income of most South African households.
The need for fees to fall fired up protests across the country and public benefit organisation, Feenix, has risen from the ashes to assist.
The Cape Town CBD-based organisation, which was launched on Sunday June 25 to find businesses willing to donate money to students in need, has already raised R1.2 million, and funded 25 students who attend universities throughout South Africa.
Among these is UCT student Ramatsobane Ratsoma.
The second year medical student, who is originally from Ivory Park in Johannesburg, is the recipient of two bursaries, but combined, they were not enough for all her tuition costs – and her parents were unable to cover the shortfall.
“Myparents couldn’t afford to pay for my studies and I could possibly face financial exclusion if my fees were not paid up. Someone at church told me about Feenix and I registered and they paid the remaining balance on my total.
“I felt so blessed and relieved. A burden was taken off my shoulders. The application was chilled and exciting, there is not a lot of paperwork. It’s like doing a profile on Facebook,” said Ms Ratsoma.
The organisations funds those who are already registered at university and are in need of financial assistance. Applicants need to have a household income below R600 000 a year and need to produce their financial statements as fees are paid directly to the university.
They then need to create an online profile and write a statement or create a video to motivate why a donor should assist them. Businesses who want to donate, can then contribute to the fund pool which will assist any of the students or they can donate to a specific student.
“(A total of) R35 billion worth of funding is needed in South AfricaandNSFAS (NationalStudent Financial Aid Scheme) fundsR15billion – which is only half. We’ve had a great start thus far, but we need to get businesses on board. Businesses can donate and will receive a Section 18A tax certificate. It also counts towards B-BBEE scorecards,” said Feenix operations and project manager,Elizabeth Strydom.
“At the moment it’s easier to work with an academicstatement, but our focus going forward will be to focus on food and housing vouchers. Funding is not based on academic record, but is based on who’s more deserving. Our focus is needy students.”
For more information, go to www.feenix.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org