Eros School for children with cerebral palsy celebrated an 85 percent pass rate in the 2016 matric exam.
Bongani Ndlovu, from Blue Downs; Ayrton Peake, from Bridgetown, and Stefan Jurgen Peffer, from Newfields, were among the school’s 16 matric candidates who wrote the exams.
This year, the Bridgetown-based school has 26 matric pupils, 10 more than last year.
Bongani, 19, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy soon after he was born.
He attended Holy Cross RC Primary School in Woodstock until Grade 3. He then changed schools and attended Tembaletu School for physically disabled children, in Gugulethu, from Grade 4 to till Grade 9 and joined Eros School in Grade 10.
He wrote his matric exams with two assistants – someone reading the questions to him and another person writing down his answers.
According to his mother, Makhu Ndlovu, doctors noticed a problem when Bongani did not cry when he was born.
When she tried to breastfeed him, he couldn’t latch on because his muscles were too weak.
Bongani still hadn’t cried by the time Ms Ndlovu took him home, so she went to the library in search of answers. The books she read helped her understand cerebral palsy – a condition marked by impaired muscle co-ordination (spastic paralysis) and/or other disabilities, typically caused by damage to the brain before or at birth.
But Ms Ndlovu did not give up.
“I loved my boy and I wanted a son so badly, I prayed to have a son. I decided to fight to make him what he is today,” she said.
She helped Bongani exercise at home, and she continued reading about his condition.
She noticed he couldn’t lift his head when he laid down, so she put dolls in front of him and called him to, getting him to lift his head. Although his condition meant it was likely he would never speak,
Ms Ndlovu tried everything she could to get him to do just that. And when Bongani was four, he said: “mama”.
“It very proud moment, it was an amazing experience,” said Ms Ndlovu.
“I also tried to make him walk with sticks in his hand. I prayed a lot and asked God to help. His body was quite weak, so I used Vaseline to massage him to keep his muscles active,” she said.
Ms Ndlovu said it was no fluke that her son had done so well in the matric exams.
“If you have a child with a disability, go and educate yourself. Find schools which cater for your children.
“Speak to doctors, psychologists, look on the internet, and use anything that is available to help your child. I used to go to flea markets to find things to help my child. I’ve guided him throughout and supported him so I’m not surprised that we are sitting here now,” she said.
“I thank the school for helping him and recognising his potential, and I thank the department for assisting us and making sure our children pass.
“Parents need to work together with the school. If we all work together, we will achieve good results, but if we don’t, everyone loses: the parents, the children and the school.”
Ayrton joined Eros School in Grade 3. He had previously attended a mainstream school in Bridgetown but teachers had noticed that his writing was much slower than it should be.
His mother, Linda Peake, said she was amazed with the school because it had speech therapists and psychologists. Ayrton had done so well over the years and she was very proud of his results.
“I was so worried when he reached matric because I didn’t know how he would handle his exams. I think I was the only parent crying on the day we collected the results.
“It’s been a very long journey and sometimes I had to work two jobs, but we always had the understanding that I went to work; he went to school,” she said.
Ayrton will be the first person in the family to go to university. He said he had been nervous before getting his results but was proud of his achievement.
“I would like to study IT and graphics because I enjoy doing it. I want to say that what people say isn’t always true. If you come to Eros and try to get to know the school you will possibly want to enrol,” he said.
Ms Peake thanked the Eros School for helping her son and said parents of special-needs children should get them assessed.
“Each child has a potential; it’s just for someone to recognise it and help them. They have done wonders for my child, and they can do that for others too,” she said.
Mogamad Saait Francis, deputy chairman of the student governing body and one of the parents at the school, said:
“We are overjoyed, and we are so happy. Last year, was the first year after nine years that we wrote matric exams, so we are very proud because we have made it to the top. We can’t thank everyone enough for the success of this school,” he said.