Pretoria - When the pupils of Matseke Primary School in Atteridgeville returned to school on Monday, some of them barely recognised their school.
They were greeted with splashes of colour at every turn; what was broken when they left for the school holidays had been repaired, and the school was spotless.
Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) staff spent two days renovating the school as part of their Mandela Day initiative and on former President Nelson Mandela's birthday, they handed over the spruced up school to pupils and staff.
Grade 7 pupil Angie Mashola said she and her friends jumped for joy when they walked through the school gates.
"It looks beautiful and so colourful. We were so surprised. We weren't expecting this," she said.
Principal Mamakobe Malatji said the pupils were even warning each other not to touch the newly-painted walls to ensure they did not dirty them.
Before the IEC staff's efforts, property developers Abland, added colour to the school, as it had last been painted in 1987.
Malatji was particularly grateful for the work the IEC staff had done in the school's library.
"The library was a little dilapidated but they managed to resuscitate it and give it life. They cleaned, painted and even put in carpets. Finally the pupils can sit in the library and read," he said.
In the spirit of Mandela Day, Malatji said he would be encouraging parents to help with the school's upkeep so that they could build on what the IEC had started.
"I am so grateful for the 67 minutes for Mandela initiative. It has really assisted our school," he added.
IEC chairperson Dr Brigalia Bam said the project at Matseke Primary was an important one that was part of a larger project which involved the entire nation.
"This project stands for hope for the future. This is the day of Nelson Mandela - an icon who stands for hope," she said.
Bam added that it was symbolic that the IEC was at a school on Mandela Day, helping ensure the future leaders of the country could achieve their goals and in an environment that was conducive to learning.
She appealed to the pupils and school management to take care of their school, adding that the IEC would be back to check in on the school.