Tanisha Heiberg

The #Access campaign launced by the Wits SRC has raised over R2.6-million and attracted the attention of celebrities like DJ Sbu. 

NedBank Gloria Phasha, Vice-Cahncellor Adam Habib, Karabo Maruthaand Nompendulo Mkatshwa

Vice-Chancellor Adam Habib, Wits SRC president Nompendulo Mkatshwa and SRC members Karabo Marutha and Gloria Phasha were presented with a R2-million donation towards students fees from representatives from NedBank. The donation from the bank, forms part of the #Access campaign launched by the Wits SRC on Welcome Day that aims to raise money for students who cannot afford tertiary education.

The Wits SRC’s #Access campaign for students who cannot pay fees has raised over R2.6-million and attracted endorsements from local celebrities such as DJ Sbu.

“DJ Sbu has agreed to endorse the Access campaign … Sbu along with the SRC will be participating in his fund raising event on Sunday,” according to Wits SRC secretary general Fasiha Hassan. The details of the endorsement are still under discussion.

Hassan said that some of the proceeds from DJ Sbu’s Annual SLEF Benefit Concert will go towards the #Access campaign with the details still to be ironed out.

This comes after the Wits SRC launched the #Access fundraiser at the university’s welcome day for first-year students. The campaign aims to raise R10-million by the end February for the “missing middle”—students who don’t qualify for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) but still cannot afford tuition.

“They are students who are too poor to be rich and too rich to be poor”

Hassan said the SRC is hoping to raise enough money to help at least 8 000 students with not only tuition but also necessities such as accommodation and transport.

“It’s one thing to get them into the system but it’s another to get them out successfully … we are aiming to look at this holistically,” said Hassan.

“They are students who are too poor to be rich and too rich to be poor … these are children of teachers, nurses and policemen,” said SRC president Nompendulo Mkatshwa at the welcome day.

The fundraiser includes Fill the Jar, pledges forms, donations and the proceeds gained from O-week events, such as Beer Garden, Freshers Party and the Flea Market, will go towards the humanitarian fund.  “People think that O-week is about ‘party party party’, let me tell you something O-week is not about that. It’s about raising funds for students. Party with a purpose,” said Mkatshwa

Another key focus to the initiative is the corporate challenge where they hope to encourage big business to donate. At the launch R2-million was donated by Nedbank to start kick start the initiative. Mkatshwa implored not only students and parents to donate but also corporate and other professionals. “We challenge other corporate to bless us, be our ‘blessers’,” said Mkatshwa. Other corporate donation include R600 000 from Abbotts Laboratories.

“No amount of funding is enough”

Last year the Wits SRC raised R4.4-million for the One million One Month campaign to assist students who were affected by the NSFAS shortfall crisis.

In an interview on Wednesday with Wits Vuvuzela, Mkatshwa said the SRC wanted to expand access to education towards every academically qualified student.

“The Wits SRC seeks to ensure that every single academically deserving child gains access to this institution and succeeds in this institution …We need the masses of our people skilled and knowledgeable in order for us to create the type of growth that will create socioeconomic equality and justice in South Africa,” said  Mkatshwa.

However, Hassan acknowledged that even if the SRC meets its goal of R10-million, it will still not be enough to help all of the students in need of funding for their tertiary education.

“No amount of funding is enough,” said Hassan.

This initiative comes in the wake of the Fees Must Fall protests that spread to other campuses across the country at the end of last year when students demanded a 0% fee increase and an end to outsourcing.

“#Access is an evolution of Fees Must Fall,” said Hassan.