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Archive
REAP has a rich and eventful history and we invite you to share in some of our stories and highlights from the past.

 2020

January 2020

Exciting new TVET project in Bloemfontein

For some years now, REAP has been an NPO partner of the Letsatsi Solar Park Trust, working with community beneficiaries close to Bloemfontein. Initially the plan was to support university students at UFS and CUT originating from rural communities all over the Free State, but in particular the villages of Dealesville and Soutpan. However we have now decided to extend that support to students from Dealesville and Soutpan who are eligible to study at Motheo TVET College in Bloemfontein. All students will have their basic study costs covered by NSFAS, but REAP will supplement that with a stipend, a laptop computer, personalized psycho-social support, a weekend orientation camp and a series of life skills workshops. We will also assist with securing practical work placements. In 2020 there will be 87 students enrolled at the start of the academic year.



 2019

January 2019

Voices Unite

REAP recognises and supports the right of students to protest and activate vigorously for improved access to higher education and genuine institutional transformation. However this should be carried out respectfully and peacefully without resort to violence, wilful damage to property and infringement on the legitimate rights of other ...READ MORE Voices Unite is an exciting and groundbreaking project, driven by InOnAfrica, a Johannesburg based South African research company. Voices Unite will seek feedback from 30000 South African youth to explore in detail the state of postschool education, skills development, job readiness and youth unemployment. It will also extend to student views and insights around various topics, such as healthcare, telecommunications, transport and financial services. The research will be rolled out as a digital survey platform that post-school students will participate in via computer and mobile phone from January 2020 – including +500 questions.

REAP has decided to become a Voices Unite partner because we believe in the power of young people to become agents of positive change in South Africa, and that their voices need to be heard. Like many countries on this continent, the age demographic in South Africa is low, and young people are both our best hope for the present and the future. We will actively encourage our students and alumni to participate, and believe that the results could be a very significant source of data driven information for government, policy makers, donors and all who work with youth in South Africa. You can read more at www.voicesunite.co.za.
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 2018

January 2018

Exciting new project in Buffalo City

REAP is excited to announce that we have been selected as an implementing partner in the Bumb’ingomso project, an ambitious programme seeking to reduce HIV infection in Buffalo City. Funded by KFW (German donors) and the DG Murray Trust, the initiative brings together a range of different NPOs to operate collaboratively and strategically across the whole municipality.

REAP’s role is to provide holistic support to first year NSFAS funded students at Walter Sisulu University (WSU) Buffalo City campuses, mainly originating from rural areas. The rationale is that, by giving vulnerable young people in higher education a sense of a brighter future which they would want to protect, risky behaviours can be minimised. ...READ MORE REAP is excited to announce that we have been selected as an implementing partner in the Bumb’ingomso project, an ambitious programme seeking to reduce HIV infection in Buffalo City. Funded by KFW (German donors) and the DG Murray Trust, the initiative brings together a range of different NPOs to operate collaboratively and strategically across the whole municipality.

REAP’s role is to provide holistic support to first year NSFAS funded students at Walter Sisulu University (WSU) Buffalo City campuses, mainly originating from rural areas. The rationale is that, by giving vulnerable young people in higher education a sense of a brighter future which they would want to protect, risky behaviours can be minimised.

The project commenced in late 2017 and is being piloted initially for two years. The REAP project team is made up of two Student Development Advisors and one programme administrator, based in an office at WSU Potsdam campus. Vatiswa Mangxola is the implementation team leader based in East London with skilled guidance and oversight from Glenda Glover (former REAP Director based in Cape Town). The team is currently working with 223 students, offering workshops on life skills related issues, one on one consultations and referrals for more specialist assistance.

This is an important development for REAP as it trials supporting students in a context where there is no direct funding relationship, and also at a university which is somewhat under resourced and dealing with many disruptions and operational challenges. We are also working with much larger numbers than usual, testing what impact can be made with a ‘lighter touch’ model of support.

The project is being carefully monitored and evaluated and over time we will share more about how it has developed and what lessons have been learned.
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November 2018

REAP’s Response to Free Higher Education

The recent introduction of free higher education for the poor and working class in South Africa has given us reason to celebrate because REAP’s core mission since our inception in 2001 has always been to remove the financial barriers that rural students face as they attempt to access Higher Education. REAP, in principle, welcomes this change, however we have some concerns:- ...READ MORE The recent introduction of free higher education for the poor and working class in South Africa has given us reason to celebrate because REAP’s core mission since our inception in 2001 has always been to remove the financial barriers that rural students face as they attempt to access Higher Education. REAP, in principle, welcomes this change, however we have some concerns:-

• The financial sustainability of the scheme is open to serious question and we fear that over time it will need to be cut back; • The capacity of NSFAS to adequately administer the scheme has also been found to be sadly lacking to date, though we recognise that urgent steps are being taken to address this; • Whilst the introduction of free higher education reduces the barriers to access, it does nothing to address the unacceptably low retention and throughput rates of NSFAS students. Urgent attention must be paid to ensuring that there is a far greater return in terms of graduations, on the dramatically increased public investment in higher education. • The overall allocation of funds within higher education is disproportionately weighted to universities. Urgent efforts must be made to improve our vocational training sector, which is a more appropriate post-school education option for the majority of young South Africans.

REAP has made some strategic decisions in light of the new higher education funding landscape. In summary terms, our core focus is now on improving graduation and employability rates rather than facilitating access. As always we also have a keen desire to inculcate values consistent with our Catholic ethos such as integrity, community service and active responsible citizenship. As a result:-

• From 2018 all new REAP students must already be recipients of the NSFAS bursary, which we will supplement with a stipend and a laptop computer. • We will no longer recruit new students from schools but rather directly from university, though still retaining our previous selection criteria, namely that the student matriculates from a rural school and comes from a household with an incomeless than R122,000 per annum. This speaks to the shift in emphasis whereby our core business is no longer getting students into university but rather getting those who make it there through to graduation. • From 2019 we will only recruit new students from six Higher Education Institutions, namely UJ, UWC, NMU, UKZN, UFS & CUT. We will however continue to support all current students until completion of their studies. This decision is driven by a desire to target and focus our resources more efficiently, working with more students at less institutions.
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 2017

November 2017

REAP’s response to student protests

REAP recognises and supports the right of students to protest and activate vigorously for improved access to higher education and genuine institutional transformation.

However this should be carried out respectfully and peacefully without resort to violence, wilful damage to property and infringement on the legitimate rights of other students or staff members to go about their daily business.

REAP condemns all forms of violence, intimidation and vandalism and will take a zero tolerance approach to any REAP student participating in such behaviour.



 2016

October 2016

REAP turns 15!

As a way of commemorating 15 years of operation, REAP held symposia in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban during the month of October. These events engaged with three important pieces of research related to REAP's work, which addressed student support in the higher education sector and graduate employment.

The first presentation focused on findings from an external review of the REAP student support programme, which was carried out by Penny Morrell, an independent evaluator. In a macro policy context where the call for increased funding for higher education becomes ever louder, throughput and retention is increasingly relevant. ...READ MORE The contribution of structured student support to addressing these concerns — and its potential to be scaled - therefore deserves more serious attention. Penny's presentation assessed the nature and impact of REAP's student psycho-social support, mentoring and life skills programme focused on rural students — and asked the question how the sector might ensure that support services that facilitate throughput might reach more first generation students.

The second piece of work was carried out and presented by REAP's Head of Programme, Kanyisa Diamond as part of her MBA studies. Kanyisa's research sought to identify the competencies and attributes needed by student support practitioners — both working at higher education institutions and NGOs. This has relevance to the potential scalability of support.

The third presentation was a detailed study by Dr. Andrew Hartnack into the experience of REAP graduates in finding employment and navigating life in the workplace. For information about the full report, please refer to the “Employability Research Project” article, also found on the home page.

The three symposia were attended by more than 200 REAP supporters and beneficiaries, including industry partners, higher education institutions, funders, recruiters, alumni, final year students, board members and staff.

Click here to view more pictures of the event.
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August 2016

Alumni Updates

During the month of June, REAP went on an intensive search for past graduates, as we have been wanting to develop an alumni association for some time now. With the assistance of two interns, sourced from our student cohort, we managed to track down approximately 220 alumni via social networks, telephone phone calls and e-mail. We hope to maintain a vibrant, active and innovative network moving forward.
Inspired by a "pay it forward" approach, the REAP alumni will be a resource to the current REAP students through mentoring and other activities. The alumni will also be “door openers” for REAP, by representing the organisation within their networks and spheres of influence. REAP’s FaceBook Page and LinkedIn Group also provides a platform for interaction with other alumni.

This is an ongoing project, so if you are a past REAP student or know of anyone whom we have not been able to make contact with, please e-mail alumni@reap.org.za as we look forward to hearing from you.

April 2016

J.P. Morgan supports an exciting new employability project

REAP is excited to announce renewed partnership with JP Morgan Chase Foundation focused around the theme of employability. In addition to facilitating access to higher education for rural youth from low income families by providing full cost bursaries and then offering structured mentoring, psychosocial support and academic monitoring, REAP seeks to ensure that our graduates, both from universities and technical universities, find and retain employment appropriate to their skills and training. J.P. Morgan’s generous financial support will allow us to pursue four key initiatives:
• Detailed research seeking to investigate how REAP graduates over the years have fared in the workplace - tracking their challenges and successes and identifying what could have been done to prepare them better;
• Development of a structured curriculum which will equip REAP students with the soft and hard skills necessary to both secure and retain a job;
• Development of a nationwide network of employer relationships with a view to facilitating vacation and graduate placements for REAP students;
• Consolidation of the REAP Alumni Association into a robust and vibrant network.
The project will make use of both REAP staff and skilled external consultants and conclude in April 2017.

 2015

April 2015

REAP/SACBC response to student crisis

The Department of Social Action (DSA) of the Southern Africa Catholic Bishops Conference (SACBC) unequivocally believes that no academically worthy young South African should be denied the opportunity to study at higher education level because of their financial situation, or that of their family.

This is critical both as a matter of justice to redress the consequences of apartheid, but also to build a globally competitive national skills base to enable economic and human development in South Africa. Indeed SACBC’s associate body the Rural Education Access Programme (REAP), by virtue of its partnerships with the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and corporate South Africa, has granted bursaries and loans to hundreds of rural young people from low income families enabling them to enter universities all over South Africa...READ MORE

January 2015

REAP welcomes 126 new students in 2015

Following a rigorous selection process, REAP is delighted to announce that 126 new first year students have been accepted on to the programme in 2015. These students were recruited by REAP volunteers and partners from rural schools in 8 provinces. All REAP first year students attended orientation activities, including weekend camps in Villiersdorp (Western Cape), Benoni (Gauteng) and Port Shepstone (KZN). This was a wonderful opportunity for students to meet REAP staff in their region, get to know fellow first year students and participate in workshops to help them successfully manage the transitions from school to university, rural to urban and from living at home to living independently. Presentations were made by REAP staff as well corporate partners and staff from the various universities.

Click here to view more photos of our 2015 Orientation Camps.

 2014

Dec 2014

REAP produces 116 new graduates in 2014

REAP is delighted to announce that 116 of our students (64 females & 52 males) successfully completed their studies and will proceed to graduation. This is by far the highest number of REAP graduates in a single yeargrand we extend congratulations to each and every one of them!
This is a very significant milestone and both the graduates and their families should be proud. Of the 116 graduates, 56 were doing degree courses, 4 Extended Degrees and 56 National Diplomas. The graduates came from the following study streams:- Arts – 5, Built Environment – 1, Commerce – 20, Education – 3, Engineering – 15, Humanities – 21, Law – 4, Management – 16, Medical – 6, Science – 19, Technology – 6.

Click here to read more about our Graduates.
Click here to see our Gala Dinner Photos.

March 2014

Farewell to Beva Runciman

REAP recently honoured retiring founding Board member Beva Runciman with a cocktail function in Cape Town. There were musical contributions and poems from staff, students and Harry Curtis, REAP’s long term external auditor and speeches paying tribute from Janice Seland (REAP Treasurer) & Archbishop William Slattery (former Chair of the REAP Board). The event was attended by REAP staff & Board members both past and present as well other friends of both Beva and REAP.

From 1990 to 1998 Beva was Director of the Catholic Educational Aid Programme. During that time Beva served as National Vice Chairperson of the Bursary Council of South Africa. She was also part of a delegation to give evidence to the National Commission on Higher Education....READ MORE

 2013

May 2013

Absa & REAP join hands

We are delighted to announce a significant new funding partnership with Absa. Youth are the main focus of Absa’s latest Corporate Social Investment strategy, and the promotion of life skills a key component of that.

Absa have committed substantial funds to support REAP’s mentoring, camping, workshop and life skills training activities for students enrolled at campuses in Gauteng, Free State & North West. Both Absa & REAP hope that this will be a long and fruitful relationship, eventually extending to a full national footprint.

April 2013

Be Prepared

The REAP Early Recruitment Pilot Project

With the generous support of JP Morgan Chase, REAP has recently completed an 18 month long pilot project, funded by JP Morgan, exploring ways of improving general preparation for our target group in the Eastern Cape and Kwa Zulu Natal.
REAP has long been aware of the negative impact poor preparation has on the first year of tertiary studies.

In this instance we are not referring to academic preparedness but the choice of appropriate fields of study and the practical application processes. Choosing the wrong course or even the wrong univeristy can lead to unhappiness, failure and drop out. The two primary hurdles for REAP to engage with were a dispersed national rural focus and our support of a wide range of courses, according to student choice...READ MORE

 2012

April 2012

Opening of the Durban Office

In April 2012 REAP opened its new KZN regional office in Musgrave, Durban. Linda Budaza (Regional Manager) and her team will serve the needs of our 180 KZN based students and work closely with institutional staff at both UKZN and DUT.

An official opening event was held on June 20 presided over by Cardinal Wilfred Napier (Archbishop of Durban). Around 35 people attended included representatives from UKZN, DUT, Mondi, iSimangaliso Wetlands Trust, NACCW, KZN Ministry of Education and Central Applications Office.

 2011

October 2011

REAP turns 10!

REAP commemorated 10 years of existence this month. Celebrations were held in Johannesburg on 28 October and in Cape Town on 3 November and were attended by founder members, past and present students, staff, board members, recruiters, funders and partners of REAP.

We were honoured to welcome Professor Loyiso Nongxa, Vice-Chancellor & Principal from the University of the Witwatersrand and Professor Brian O’Connell, Rector & Vice-Chancellor from ...READ MORE the University of the Western Cape as our respective keynote speakers. We were privileged to hear first-hand testimonies from our Graduates and Students about how REAP assisted them in reaching their dreams and we took a step back into the past as heard from some of our long-standing board and staff members about humble beginnings, early challenges and the perseverance of a small team of people to overcome financial and other struggles.

We were also reminded of the values and ethos which REAP has been built on and we look forward to taking this into the next decade as we aim to grow and help many more young people to reach their full potential.”
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March 2011

We’re expanding!

REAP recently celebrated the opening of our first regional office in Johannesburg. With our Head Office based in Cape Town, the opening of the Johannesburg branch marked the beginning of a nationwide decentralisation programme. The opening of local offices across South Africa will facilitate face-to-face interaction and more personal relationships between REAP’s Student Advisors and their Students and it will also promote better liaison with institutional personnel.

REAP’s vision is to open an office in KwaZulu Natal in 2012 and further offices in the Eastern Cape, Free State and Limpopo by 2014.

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