A group of students recently completed a 21-day journey from Cape Town to Johannesburg in an effort to raise money for their fellow students who don’t have access to higher education because of financial constraints.
The #Walk4Access initiative aims to show local citizens and those abroad the real burdens of the cost of higher education and to address the financial exclusion of students from disadvantaged backgrounds. The walk commenced on March 21 and ended on April 10 at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.
Campaign spokesperson Pastor Immanuel Landman handed over a memorandum to the Ministry of Higher Education and Training. In the memorandum the initiative calls on the government to revamp the National Student Finance Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and stop the alleged abuse of the funds. “We call for a multilateral stakeholder intervention to safeguard against the abuse.”
Gateway News asked students from the initiative some questions:
How was the initiative born?
The idea was born out of an active relationship between Pastor Landman from Elim Full Gospel Church and student activists, Marcus Mashinini and Luvuyo Menziwa from the University of Pretoria. Pastor Landman approached the students in regards to finding a practical way to bring solutions to pressing student issues.
What is the main goal of the initiative?
The main goal of the initiative was to walk from Cape Town to Pretoria over a period of 21 days. It was firstly to raise awareness of student issues such as hunger, student homelessness, historical debt and financial exclusion. Secondly, the walk was intended to raise funds to bring relief to these issues.
What did the team learn from the walk?
The most important lesson that we could take from the walk was that initiatives such as this bring South Africans together once they have been made aware of the gravity of the issues students face. However, if they remain unaware, they sadly remain insensitive to the struggles that students face. Lastly the hearts of ordinary South Africans were open toward us in every town where we stayed on our walk. The hospitality we received was sincere and sympathetic to our cause. Everywhere we stayed our hosts gave us their best.
Are you satisfied with the result?
In terms of media exposure we are relatively satisfied. However, prior to the initiative we did not have adequate time to prepare our marketing strategies and to engage sponsors sufficiently. In terms of the financial support we received, we sadly have not reached our goal yet.
What is the next step?
As a continuing drive to raise funds a series of events has been planned and will be put into action during the course of this year. These events include the Hatfield Festival where a safe festive environment can be created for students to engage socially and the surrounding community to be made aware of the issues students face. We want to present the community with an opportunity to become involved in finding solutions to these issues.
There will also be sporting events hosted by #Walk4access in conjunction with Tuks Sports. In addition to this #Walk4Access is also partnering with various residences to launch even more community events.
How can South Africans support the initiative?
They can support us by participating in our events and volunteering to help out in these events. They can also assist with fundraising ideas. Creating awareness is also a way in which they can support us by sharing and following us on all social media platforms. All Social media accounts are #Walk4Access.
The funds #Walk4access raise are strictly allocated to registered and non-registered University of Pretoria students who are not covered by the fee-free education. especially those who have been at the University between 2015 and 2017.
The funds are allocated as follows:
- 20% of the raised funds are allocated to the financially excluded group of 2015, 2016 and 2017.
- 30% of the same goes towards academic support
- 50% caters for accommodation and feeding of the students.
- and each student application will be reviewed on merit in consultation with the university.
#Walk4access also has a Backabuddy account where anyone can donate funds.