In May this year the #CapTheGap Student Relief Fund was launched by Feenix, an online fundraising platform that connects communities with university students, in an effort to make online learning more accessible during the nationwide lockdown.
According to Leana de Beer, Chief Executive Officer of Feenix, the phased re-integration approach by universities used to curb the spread of Covid-19 means that some students may not be able to return to campus any time this year and quite possibly well into 2021 too.
In an effort to help students who have been impacted by the lockdown and the phased re-integration, De Beer explains that the aim of the #CapTheGap campaign is to raise R 6.6 million to equip final year and postgraduate university students with laptops and data.
“Individuals and corporates are responding readily to the call and the campaign is our most successful to date, with the fund having already secured R3.1 million, of which R609 000 was donated by individuals, trusts and foundations.”
“There is a high expectation of students to be self-motivated, exhibit commitment and accept the flexibility that goes with online engagements,” she says. “Unfortunately, this is a real challenge for students who are financially restricted, due to the high cost of access to the necessary resources, data and the internet.”
“I get the struggles that people go through at university – not being able to even afford the basics needed to make their life more bearable,” says Nosipho Dongo – one of #CapTheGap’s individual funders. “I didn’t even know where to look to for help, so I just want to do what I can to support others who may have a similar story.”
Supporting the campaign, singer, songwriter and actress, Zolani Mahola, says that education opens doors and pathways that are so necessary to a person realising their full potential.
“In a country with such a deep history of disenfranchisement as ours, education is one of the ways that we can level the playing field.” Mahola continues, “We need to make it easy to learn and aggressively dismantle the barriers that hinder the potential of the youth and #CapTheGap campaign does this wonderfully.”
The fund has also seen donations from major corporates, including R120 000 put forward by Metropolitan Health Corporate, a division of the Momentum Metropolitan Holdings.
“We are proud to contribute to the Feenix #CapTheGap campaign, as we share the belief that education should not be dependent on wealth. This donation will be used towards empowering students to continue with their studies during this challenging period,” says a spokesperson for Metropolitan Health Corporate.
De Beer and her team at Feenix have been working very closely with universities to identify students and determine their needs, enabling them to attend online classes. To date, a total of 294 students across South Africa have already received their equipment, data and food vouchers. The distribution of these have been made possible through Feenix’s distribution partner, Van Schaik Bookstores.
Bhekizenzo Simelane, a postgraduate student at Durban University of Technology, is one of the many students in urgent need of a laptop and internet data. He hopes to enroll for the master’s degree program in Language Practice.
“I have faced many challenges as an undergrad student but giving up was never an option,” says Simelane. “Receiving a laptop and internet data will help me to do my research from home, and to ultimately fulfill my dream of becoming the first doctoral scholar in my family.”
“International Mandela Day presents us with an opportunity to do something good,” says De Beer. “Your R67 donation will go a long way to closing the digital divide to enable students to continue with their studies during this uncertain time.”
To support the Feenix #CapTheGap Relief Fund visit https://capthegapfund.org/