The Rural Education Access Programme (REAP)

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The Rural Education Access Programme (REAP) enables young people from marginalised rural communities in South Africa access to tertiary education. Matriculants from these communities are usually unable to access higher education due to poverty, poor education, lack of information, distance from urban centres or educational hubs, and historical apartheid discrimination.

REAP meets this essential need in South Africa by carefully selecting rural learners who meet university requirements. In addition, a proven package of support is provided to give them the best possible chance of success. Without this support many of these learners would be unable to fulfill their potential, succeed in their studies, find employment and make a contribution to the development of South Africa . Young men and women are given new hope, not only to escape poverty themselves, but also to uplift their families, through the prospect of further study.

REAP calls on state mechanisms to assist students. The success of the programme can be ascribed to the holistic support that is offered. Students are assisted through:

  • A network of volunteers and youth focused community or non-governmental organisations who identify financially challenged rural students and assist with career guidance, application & selection processes.
  • Assisting successful applicants to secure enrolment at the relevant institutions.
  • Allocation of full-cost bursaries provided by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme. This includes assistance with study costs such as: registration, books, living expenses, travel costs, technical equipment spectacles and health care (where applicable).
  • Monthly mentoring, advice and counselling provided by a dedicated Student Development Advisor, which takes place either face-to-face or via a toll free line.
  • A programme of workshops designed to develop social and academic skills.
  • Work preparation workshops for senior students.
  • Peer mentoring and group support.
  • Performance monitoring and feedback.
  • Information and support for HIV/AIDS.
  • Liaison with institutional student services.
  • Introductions to additional service providers.
  • An opportunity to sow back through voluntary community service.

REAP has an equitable and efficient selection process which assesses family income, rurality, academic performance and course motivation.

Our developmental approach teaches and encourages students to eventually come to a place of independence where they can face challenges and solve problems on their own. REAP also regularly undertakes research and advocates remedies for inequities that impact our students.

In 2017, REAP is supporting 508 students originating from rural areas across South Africa, enrolled at 16 different Higher Education Institutions in 6 different provinces. Our students are studying a broad range of disciplines at under-graduate level. All REAP students come from families earning less than ZAR122,000 per year before deductions/or gross. We currently have 152 first years on the programme.

ZAR20 000 supports a tertiary student on the programme for one year. If you wish to support a student, contact If you are a South African Citizen, REAP will send you a tax certificate. You will be acknowledged as a supporter of the Programme on REAP’s website and in REAP publications (unless you wish otherwise) and you will receive reports about your student(s)’ progress twice a year.