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Enrique and Hugo Claassen sail into Sotogrande to highlight problems of dyslexic children in Holland – Dec. 2012

Two young Dutch brothers who are sailing around the world to highlight problems faced by dyslexic children arrived in the Port of Sotogrande on the 20th December and we caught up with them during their one-day stopover.

Enrique and Hugo Claassen aged 15 and 14 have been excluded from any form of education in Holland because of their severe dyslexia. The brothers , who have above average IQs, set sail from Amsterdam despite earlier attempts by the Dutch authorities to stop them.

Their voyage, called ‘Sailing for Education’ aims to raise global awareness of the difficulties faced by school-age children with special needs and their fundamental right to an education. The Dutch education ministry has acknowledged that there are over 16000 children currently not attending school in Holland alone. Enrique was forced to leave school two years ago after he was excluded having been told he was unlikely to pass his final exams. Hugo, who turned 14 on Saturday, left a year ago for the same reason. Both boys want an education but have been rejected by 17 different schools.

Six months ago they decided to do something about their predicament and planned their epic round-the-world voyage in their grandfather’s 21ft sailing boat, the Shaman. Their father, Guillermo Claassen, is shadowing his sons in another 24ft boat. The boys are very determined. They have sold their possessions to get money so they could upgrade and equip the boat,” she added. and Hugo have done all the work themselves supervised by their father who is an experienced sailor. The Shaman is equipped with a solar panel to power safety and communication equipment. After visiting several ports along the south coast they plan to sail for Spain and Portugal. While in the UK they hope to make contact with British organisations concerned with education and learn how special needs like dyslexia are dealt with in UK schools. Ultimately they hope to assemble a list of possible solutions which will be of value to educators worldwide.

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