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In response to ongoing student protests across the country, South African Youtuber Lasizwe Dambuza launched an initiative to help students who are struggling to access enough funds to keep attending university — and has already raised R1 million in a milestone for the campaign.

The #R10GoesALongWay initiative, launched on March 12 and created alongside fellow influencers Nkateko “Takkies” Maswanganye, Sibu Mabena, and Ayanda Mhlongo, aims to raise funds for university students who have been refused access to register for this academic year as a result of historic debt. 

On Friday night, Dambuza went on Instagram Live to ask his audience how he could donate R10,000 to help students. Mabena and Takkies joined in on the conversation, and pledged money as well. Students watching the live stream suggested ways in which more money could be raised in order to fund more students. 

This was the beginning of the #R10GoesALongWay initiative, which urges people to contribute as little as R10 (about $0.70) in order to achieve their goal of fundraising R1 million (over $67,000) by Wednesday. By Thursday, Dambuza announced that the campaign had reached its target after just five days.

Over the weekend, the South African public and celebrities were invited to join a live streamed event and pledge further donations. Siya Kolisi, Sarah Langa, and DJ Shimza were among the celebrities who rose to the occasion.

In less than 24 hours, the campaign raised R300,000 ($20,000). KFC and African Bank were some of the big brands that also made a contribution to the campaign. 

On Wednesday night, the initiative reached its target of R1 million just five days since it was established. A big donation from telecommunications company, MTN helped to propel  them over the one million mark.  

Two bursary management companies have been shortlisted to disburse the funds that have been raised.

In a tweet responding to the overwhelming support and ubuntu — a concept of common humanity that you can learn more about here —  shown to him by South Africans, Dambuza tweeted: “Morning! I’m so overwhelmed by the amount of people who've come out to be part of this initiative.”

When asked about what inspired him to start this initiative, Mabena said: “Lasizwe has a really touching story about how he didn’t get to go to university because after his mom passed away, things didn't work out financially. I am also a bursary beneficiary with the GCRA [Gauteng City Region Academy], I got to study because of a bursary. There are many stories like this of different people who made it as a result of other people's money.”

Once the target had been reached, they said, they will be handing the money over to organizations that work to support students with accessing funding, and those organizations will distribute it to students.

This comes after an announcement made on March 8 by Minister of Higher Education, Blade Nzimande that the National Treasury will be decreasing the contribution it makes to the National Students Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) for the 2021 academic year and that first year students will not be recipients of the fund.  

This decision to decrease funding for the NSFAS sparked protests at universities across the country, as part of the #FeesMustFall movement that works to stop financial exclusion of students. The protests, in which at least two people have died, are still ongoing — affecting universities including the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), the University of the Free State, and the Central University of Technology.

In response to the list of demands that were made by the South African Union of Students (SAUS), Nzimande said: “The department is not in a financial position to be able to support institutions to clear all student debt of fee-paying students. We are aware that there are many students whose families struggle to keep up with payments, and many families who have also been negatively affected by the Covid-19 pandemic."

Some universities such as University of Pretoria have extended the registration period and University of Western Cape has announced that they have financially cleared students to register for the 2021 academic year.

You can find out more about the funding campaign and how you can support, here.

Global Citizen Life

Defeat Poverty

#R10GoesALongWay: Campaign to Raise Funds for South African Students Hits R1 Million in Just 5 Days

By Aaron Rakhetsi