Johannesburg – The unreasonable data hikes have been challenged for quite some time, yet nothing much has changed as mobile operators continue to get away with their overpriced services.
Initiatives like #DataMustFall seem to have fallen on deaf ears leaving thousands of people, especially students who cannot afford data, out in the cold.
In a bid to change this one student at a time, Aubrey Senyolo, a young man from Thabazimbi in Limpopo, started a social media campaign under the banner #AirtimeForAssignments. The data scheme aims to help ease the weight off students’ shoulders.
“Most students have no source of income. This is was what inspired me to take action. Yes, some students receive data from their respective institutions, but some do not or it is not always enough.
“The end goal is to ensure that students are not left behind with their school and are connected to the internet 24/7. Honestly, Covid-19 has disadvantaged a lot of people and I’m just trying to help where I can, ” said the 37-year-old man.
The #AirtimeForAssignments drive has only been active for a month, however, it is not Senyolo’s first attempt at helping strangers with airtime and data.
In February this year, he started an airtime competition on Twitter where he would buy airtime for various networks and post the voucher number on social media.
The winner would be anyone with the fastest fingertips but he soon realised that not everyone that really needed the boost may get their hands on the voucher before anyone else did.
Such projects have their own difficulties, for Senyolo, the challenge has been chancers claiming to be students and trying to use that white lie to score free data even though they do not really need it for academic purposes.
To avoid falling for such tricks, he decided to request that potential beneficiaries provide him information that proves that they are indeed studying.
“There was an incident whereby a lady who claimed that her brother was a student and in need of data, but I had my suspicions, even though he requested the data. I decided that going forward, I will ask the students to at least show me proof that they are registered with a learning institution,” he said.
In four weeks since its genesis, the campaign has assisted over 40 students on social media.
Oletilwe Montwedi, who received data through the initiative said the campaign, praised the initiative for the difference it makes in students’ lives.
“The #AirtimeForAssignments is a great movement, it has not only benefited me but many other students. As we know, data is very scarce, this campaign has not only enabled us to do research or submit our assignments and other educational purposes, but it has also helped us get in touch with our families back home.”
“Data is quite expensive. Aubrey, through his campaign, has made the data struggle much more bearable. The campaign is a once-off data upload, but he also introduced me to a service provider that has changed plans compared to my previous one. I was reluctant to switch at first, but it was worth it. I now save roughly R400 from what I used to spend.”
Apart from this initiative, Senyolo said he also helps those who are less fortunate in his neighbourhood as he deeply believes in sharing blessings with the next person to make life more liveable for everyone.