A comparative analysis of the perception and understanding of physical education and school sport among South African children aged 6-15 years

  • LO Amusa University of Venda, P. Bag X5050, Thohoyandou 0950, South Africa
  • AL Toriola Tshwane University of Technology, P. Bag X680, Pretoria, South Africa


Physical Education (PE) and School Sport (SS) in South Africa demonstrate extremes and inequities. Contrast is visible in all aspects of South African life, but most significantly in education. White and urban schools are relatively problem free, whereas black and rural schools have been adversely affected by the past governments' apartheid and separate development policies (Walter, 1994). Some schools have well developed facilities, while the majority have next to nothing. PE teachers are qualified in some cases and grossly unqualified in many others. PE programmes in white schools and urban cities offer a wide and balanced variety of activities while in others opportunities are limited to a few movement activities. As a school subject PE has been neglected, misunderstood, seen as being of little importance and regarded as inferior when compared to other subjects in the school curriculum (Walter, 1994). In order to find out the status of PE and school sport among school children aged 6- 15years, we administered the Sport in Education (SpinEd) project questionnaire (Bailey, 2005) to 897 school children in two provinces and contrasting geographical locations in South Africa. The questionnaire focused on five main themes/domains that refer to specific aspects of children's development and understanding through PE and school sport, i.e. physical development, lifestyle development, affective development, social development and cognitive development. The results showed some disparity in the perception and understanding of PE and SS among the respondents' age group and geographical location, specifically with regard to ‘feeling' about PE and SS, ‘values' (importance) of PE and SS, ‘comparison' of PE and SS with other school subjects and ‘self-rating' on PE and SS. Responses to each of the five themes/domains varied across age group, and geographical location, indicating the fact that children need to achieve the five most important developmental competencies – foundational (knowledge), practical skills (psychomotor), reflexive (affective), physical (growth) and social skills for holistic development and for PE and SS to adequately address the needs of post-independent South Africa.

Keywords: physical education, holistic development, new South Africa, reflexive competency, school sports

African Journal for Physical, Health Education, Recreation and Dance Vol. 12(3) 2006: 220-237

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1117-4315