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Nedbank Foundation donates R2m to Ikusasa in support of ‘missing middle’ students

 Nedbank has provided R2 million in funding to the Ikusasa Student Financial Aid Programme to help the organisation meet the tertiary education funding needs of 40 students whose lives and studies have been impacted by Covid-19 and the national lockdown.

According to Tshegofatso Bokaba, Acting Executive Head of Nedbank Foundation, the donation builds on the long-standing partnership between Nedbank and Ikusasa, which works to help meet the tertiary education funding needs of young students from families falling into the so called ‘missing middle’ income bracket.

“South Africa’s tertiary education sector has long been plagued by significant challenges,” Bokaba points out, “particularly regarding the dire need for funding for the many thousands of prospective students who are unable to cover the tuition and accommodation costs involved in attending colleges and universities.”

Bokaba explains that, while these education funding challenges impact the majority of lower income families, children from the ‘missing middle’ income group find themselves in a particular quandary when it comes to covering tertiary education costs. “These missing middle families typically earn a household income that isn’t enough to be able to pay for studies themselves, or to qualify for student loans from financial institutions,” she explains, “but is also considered too high to be considered for government assistance, such as that offered by NSFAS.”

As a result, young South Africans from these missing middle families are often left without any way of being able to fund their tertiary education, and many end up unemployed or wasting their potential in menial jobs.

It’s a scenario that Ikusasa has been working tirelessly to address since 2016, and which Nedbank has supported to the tune of millions of rand over that time. In 2020 alone, the bank provided R34 million, which helped to cover a range of education costs from primary school learners to postgraduate students.

“As a concerned and responsible corporate citizen, with a stated purpose to use our financial expertise to do good, Nedbank places a priority on helping to broaden access to quality education for all South Africans,” she explains, “a fact that is borne out by our ongoing Ikusasa partnership as well as our many other financial contributions including the provision of 215 bursaries worth R31,6 million by our Nedbank Education Trust in 2020 and 2021.”

According to Bokaba, this latest R2m donation is in addition to the ongoing funding support Nedbank provides to Ikusasa and various other education related initiatives and is a specific response to Ikusasa’s request for financial support to help students who have experienced unprecedented disruption to their studies as a result of Covid-19.

“These students have had to deal with an array of immense challenges over the past year,” she explains, “ranging from the loss of one or both parents to the virus or a loss in household income due to retrenchments, to difficulties accessing online learning and tutoring because of a lack of technology or connectivity.”

“The recent protests over the lack of funding available through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) have again highlighted the plight of SA’s young people, many of who have little hope of obtaining gainful employment without a tertiary qualification to their name,” Bokaba concludes, “which is why we at Nedbank believe there is now a more urgent need than ever before in our country for businesses, NGOs and government institutions to come together and deliver innovative and sustainable solutions to the education access and funding challenges facing so many of SA’s young people.”

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