Sixteen-year-old Erwin Pouwels is a grade 11 learner at Gereformeerde Hoërskool Dirk Postma. He started his inclusive journey as a 3-year-old and went to different pre-primary schools. He spent his primary school years at Gereformeerde Laerskool Johannes Calvyn. The school was very supportive. The school appointed a facilitator when he was in grade 4, to assist him with mathematics and Afrikaans. He attended all the other classes with his peers. He developed good social skills and participated in all school activities.
When it was time to decide on a high school for Erwin, his parents investigated different options and were advised to continue mainstream education for a few more years.
The parents applied for admission at Gereformeerde Hoërskool Dirk Postma. To get him enrolled in high school was a difficult process. The parents had to appoint a full-time facilitator because some teachers were very unsure of what to expect.
After a few meetings with different people, Erwin was allowed to attend the school. The parents are very grateful for his grade 8 and 9 facilitator that worked very hard to prove that inclusive education is possible.
All children benefit from learning together, inclusion teaches teamwork, empathy, solidarity and builds emotional intelligence. His parents had to get a new facilitator for grade 10, this was also a challenge, but we managed to get another good facilitator. The parents decided to let Erwin stay in school because he still benefits from the inclusive environment.
Erwin plays chess at school and participated in fundraising activities for a class tour to Durban. He is currently on tour with his class.
Inclusion taught Erwin to be very social. Inclusion benefits all children with and without disabilities and offers educators with opportunities to innovate and grow.