Mbombela — Mpumalanga Education MEC Reginah Mhaule donned a pair of overalls to help clean, paint and renovate a rural school before pupils return for the 2013 school year on Wednesday.
Mhaule did this at the official launch of the Rhandza Xikolo Xa Wena (love your school) campaign at Masitakhe Secondary School in Matsulu outside Mbombela over the weekend.
She mobilised the local community and parents to help her by cleaning and refurbishing school facilities.
"The Rhandza Xikolo Xa Wena campaign is an endeavour to request communities to take ownership of schools welfare. It calls for civil society to take the lead in creating an enabling school environment for effective teaching and learning to take place," said Mhaule.
"We seek to ensure that teachers are not left alone, but supported throughout as they teach our children under very challenging circumstances."
The MEC added that her department has made an agreement with the Department of Correctional Services to help provide offenders who can help with extra labour.
"We lack words to describe our appreciation to the leadership of the Department of Correctional Services. Their patriotic gesture is really immeasurably inspiring," the MEC said.
Rhandza Xikolo Xa Wena will continue throughout the 2013 school year, where the department, in collaboration with its partners, will paint classes and staff rooms and also plaster and paint walled fences.
The campaign will also see Jojo tanks being installed, flushing toilets being built, grass being mowed and broken ceilings and windows being either fixed or replaced.
Provincial Correctional Services representative, Khwezi Fakude, said the Rhandza Xikolo Xa Wena campaign was one of many social campaigns in which his department was involved.
"It is a pleasure for us to partner the provincial Department of Education in this campaign because we believe that learning in a clean environment brings positive results," said Fakude.
He said some of the campaigns involving the department included sending parolees to help renovate schools around the Bushbuckridge area during Mandela Day in July last year.
"The Department of Correctional Services is really not a monster that is only there to lock up offenders; but it also rehabilitates and teaches offenders skills that they can use when they are released back to the communities," Fakude said.
"We also run a similar programme with the Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism where we renew or refurbish broken school furniture across the province."