Over R40 000 worth of goods were collected during the 2019 #Back2Varsity campaign, a partnership between Menlyn Park Shopping Centre and Tuks FM, which is in support of disadvantaged students of the University of Pretoria (UP).
Research conducted by the Higher Education Department estimates that about 216 000 students in South Africa are without suitable accommodation, and almost 400 000 beds are needed to meet its enrolment targets for 2030. This has resulted in thousands of squatting tertiary students needing urgent support.
Olive Ndebele, General Manager at Menlyn Park Shopping Centre, said the #Back2Varsity campaign was far more than a charity drive. “It’s about our contribution to society, our appreciation of society, and our appreciation of what education means to the world, to our economy and to the individuals here. Education is so important – it’s a maturity of the mind. It’s not just about getting a degree so you can get a job and a better paycheck. The way you express yourself and your opinions, your confidence – there is a great distinction between those that have been educated and those who have little exposure to education.”
Professor Tawana Kupe, Vice Chancellor and Principle of the University of Pretoria, emphasised the importance of community, and the role radio stations such as Tuks FM play in benefiting the communities they serve. “This initiative really is about community, and a community is about giving, because in a community to give is to be given. No community coheres if there is no state of giving. A community radio station’s job is to create a community, in this case consisting out of the University of Pretoria and its environment.”
David Kabwa, President of UP’s Student Representative Council, thanked both Menlyn and Tuks FM for contributing to student well being through the #Back2Varsity campaign: “To Menlyn, we are extremely grateful that you’ve joined in to help. Not only do students go to Menlyn to have fun, but now they also know that Menlyn is supporting them in reaching their academic success. To Tuks FM, what more can we say? On behalf of every single student of the University of Pretoria, on behalf of all the students who come through the doors of the Department of Student Affairs wondering how they can focus on their academics when it’s hard to focus on anything other than how hungry they are, thank you.”
All the items collected, which include non-perishable foods, stationery, clothing and toiletries, will be distributed via UP’s SNAPP (Student Nutrition and Progress Programme), which provides support to underprivileged students with food and related assistance.