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Multimillion rand boost for tertiary education

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STUDENT funding efforts received a massive boost this month, with the news that crowdfunding platform Feenix has paid out R4,6million to 163 students in its latest disbursement cycle. This brings the total number of students assisted to over 2900 by the organisation since starting in 2017.

“With a mission to support our country’s future data analysts, marketers, engineers, and accountants, we are humbled by the number of corporates and individuals using our platform to provide financial access to our nation’s tertiary students,” says Leana de Beer, CEO of Feenix.

The platform was created in the wake of the #FeesMustFall movement and uses social media as a means for students to tap into their networks of potential donors to help them crowdfund and find the finances they need. Funds are paid out directly to academic institutions, with disbursements of the funds raised throughout the academic year.

One of the donors during the latest disbursement was commodities company South32, which provided bursaries to 32 students and graduates from the Empangeni and Richards Bay regions of KZN, where the organisation’s South African operations are focused.

In addition to ensuring that bursary recipients can access a tertiary education debt-free, South32’s investment will provide current students with the financial resources to be able to focus on their studies and graduates with the resources needed to find employment.

Vice President of Operations at South32, Calvin Mkhabela says: “One of our key goals is to make a difference in the lives of our communities and education is part of our priority projects. Former President, Nelson Mandela, summed it up best when he said: ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.’ An educated generation is important for our country. It’s important for our communities. But more than that, it’s important for the individual who chooses to study. And, it’s for this reason that we have partnered with Feenix to help students alleviate the burden of unpaid tuition fees.”

“We often have corporate funders who indicate areas or industries that they would like to support. For South32 it was important to support students in the King Cetshwayo District (including Richards Bay and Empangeni) because access to education is a massive problem for many in this region. Very few households in the area would be able to afford the cost of a university degree,” De Beer explains.

“Students want to study, provide a better life for themselves and their families, and become contributors to our economy. Support from companies such as South32 makes this dream easier to achieve.”

De Beer says she agrees with the emphasis placed on education as the correlation between levels of education and employment status is clear.

Recent Stats SA data (Q1, 2022) show a correlation between unemployment and education. Of the 7,9 million unemployed persons in the first quarter of 2022, as many as 50,1% had education levels below matric, followed by those with matric at 38,6%.

Those with a post-matric education were more likely to be in employment. Only 2,4% of unemployed persons were graduates, while 6,9% had other tertiary qualifications as their highest level of education.

“This disbursement is important if South Africa is to adopt a more resilient economic model and to help decrease the country’s unemployment levels,” says De Beer.

“But we still need to continue building a nation of entrepreneurs and create a generation who has a business mindset. We can achieve this through education investment and funding that works to build economies.”

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