20 March 2024 | Story ANTHONY MTHEMBU | Photo SUPPLIED
Mbongiseni Mkhatshwa
Mbongiseni Mkhatshwa, a student at the University of the Free State and founder of the Youth Life After Matric NPO.

As South Africa commemorates Human Rights Month, it is widely recognised that one of the fundamental rights which many young South Africans still don’t have access to is education. It is against this background that Mbongiseni Mkhatshwa, a student at the University of the Free State (UFS), formed a non-profit organisation to help more young people gain access to tertiary education.

Mkhatshwa says Grade 12 learners at several high schools across the country, especially in rural areas, do not have access to adequate information on how they can pursue a tertiary education. This is where his non-profit organisation (NPO), Youth Life After Matric, lends a helping hand. “Acquiring information when one is in a rural area can be difficult, so through this initiative we are trying to break that gap, because young people in rural areas also deserve to have information which will allow them to get a tertiary education,” he says.

What the organisation does

Youth Life After Matric, which was officially registered in 2021, consists of five members, who visit high schools to speak to learners about university education and encourage them to apply. 

In these engagements, Mkhatshwa and his team help the learners with selecting areas of study aligned with their goals and abilities, and then help them apply for those programmes at universities across the country. The team also helps learners with applications for bursaries. “We do this because we believe that education should not be a privilege but a right, and it is our duty to ensure that opportunities are accessible to all,” Mkhatshwa says.

Making strides

As a result of the NPO’s work, Mkhatshwa was nominated for a Founder of the Year Award (FOYA) in 2023 and attended the annual award ceremony hosted in Kenya. He was nominated in the ‘Edupreneur of the Year’ category, along with representatives from countries such as Ghana and Kenya. Although he did not win, he considers having been nominated an honour. “[It] was not only a personal achievement but also a testament to the collective effort of everyone involved in Youth Life After Matric.”

The organisation has garnered massive support from young people on social media. As a result, Mkhatshwa plans to continue to use the organisation to help bridge gaps and make tertiary education a reality for more learners. He also hopes to expand his team so that the NPO can provide more services.

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