Young education activists who walked 260km from Port Elizabeth to Bhisho to demand a higher quality of education in no-fee schools in Nelson Mandela Bay were elated to discover that the Eastern Cape Department of Education sent officials on unannounced school visits to their schools.
Art teacher and education activist John Lombardo said they had initially thought very little would come of their efforts to bring a list of problems in no-fee schools to the Department of Education's attention.
He said the children, all young teenagers, felt very dejected after being accused of making up stories about the chaos in their schools. They were also gearing up to gather evidence for the department by making a note of how many teachers arrived to teach each day.
Lombardo is the director of New York-based ArtWorks for Youth and teaches art to learners in Nelson Mandela Bay's Joe Slovo Township.
"Last week, the kids had no timetables. Of the seven classes they had in a day, they had a teacher in one of those classes. I understand that all will probably not be smooth sailing at the start of the school year, but this does not seem right," he said.