Imagine being a matric learner living in a far-flung rural village, having to travel a long distance and pay around R500 to send documents and apply for placement at a tertiary institution.

That’s what many kids in rural areas and small towns in the Eastern Cape have to endure when taking the next step after completing high school.

This process is often too expensive for many who end up applying too late at a tertiary institution or missing out on the opportunity altogether. MAT-LINK is an organisation that is currently helping solve this issue, but its founders say they need more resources so they can reach more learners and expand on their offerings.

Litha Ndabula and Sikhokhele Mbeshu founded MAT-LINK to bridge the gap between matric learners in the Eastern Cape and tertiary institutions by offering their own home equipment to help learners print, photocopy, scan documents and browse university websites, and have launched a Thundafund campaign to raise R200 000 to further their efforts.

Ndabula and Mbeshu also often dip into their own pockets to help a number of learners in the poorest areas cover the costs involved.

“MAT-LINK directors have both had first hand experience of standing in long queues and often done at the costs of missing lectures,” the pair say, “MAT-LINK is dedicated in bridging the gap between prospective tertiary students. It is crucial that the current system be eradicated.”

Their goal is to eradicate all late applications by 2020.

MAT-LINK has reached out to over 200 learners so far and aims to reach between 500 and 1200 by mid September. But the demand for their service is too overwhelming for them to be everywhere they are needed and they need more equipment to perform their tasks.

The student hub, which they hope to have up and running by November this year, will not only house a wider range of office equipment to help with applications but also be a place where learners can come to after school to do research, homework and engage with each other.

“We believe that libraries in their current form limit interaction between learners and we wish to change this through our Student Hub,” the campaign page reads, “This is where will also be hosting creativity workshops from time-to-time. We plan to erect our first hub using very cost effective ways, purchasing second hand computers and printers with internet connections and projectors by end November.”

The campaign, which began on Monday, has so far raised R1 500 and will close on 10th September.

[Source – Thundafund. Image – CC 2.0 – Ian Barbour]