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Reducing rural poverty by developing self-sustaining responsible graduates


The Rural Education Access Programme (REAP) is a national programme that assists students from poor rural areas across South Africa’s nine provinces to access tertiary education and aims to reduce rural poverty in the country through developing self-sustaining, ethically responsible graduates. With a team of 30 staff members and a wide network of recruitment volunteers and NGO partners, REAP’s mission is to offer motivated young South Africans from disadvantaged rural households the support and guidance they need to participate and succeed in higher education.

Matriculants from rural areas usually unable to access higher education as a result of poor education, poverty, distance from urban centres of educational hubs, and lack of information. REAP seeks to address this need through carefully selecting rural learners who meet university requirements. Additionally, a proven package of support is provided to give students the best possible chance of success.

Through the programme, students are assisted with:

  • Supplementary bursary funding – including stipends, laptop computer, technical equipment, core bursary funding (tuition, accommodation, meals, books) comes from NSFAS
  • Regular mentoring, advice and counselling provided by a dedicated Student Development Advisor, which takes place either face-to-face or telephonically
  • Camps and workshops designed to develop social, employability and academic skills
  • Peer mentoring and group support
  • Academic performance monitoring and referrals for additional support
  • Liaison with institutional student services and referrals as required
  • Introductions to additional service providers
  • An opportunity to sow back through voluntary community service

Through an efficient and equitable online recruitment and selection process which assesses academic performance, course motivation, family income and rurality, REAP was able to support 513 students originating from rural areas across South Africa in 2019.

To learn more about REAP, you can visit

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