A historical-political perspective on physical education in South Africa during the period 1990-1999

  • FJ Cleophas
Keywords: Physical education, Life orientation, Outcomes-based education, Politics, South Africa


This study traced the historical path of Physical Education (PE) in South Africa from being a stand-alone school subject to its incorporation into the learning area, Life Orientation (LO). LO is an amalgamation of non-examinable subjects. The critical stance taken towards this amalgamation may also be regarded as a critique of Outcomes-based Education (OBE). The infusion of PE into LO came about as a result of teacher rationalisation and at the expense of pedagogical concerns. PE was integrated into LO without critical opposition. The introduction of OBE and the integration of PE hinged largely on political symbolism, rather than reflecting true change in the educational system, resulting in policy becoming separated from practice. The post-apartheid government did not consider PE a serious concern, due to the development of a spirit of South African national sport pride mainly promoted along the lines of mega events and through the country’s re-admittance to participation in the international sporting arena. Consequently, PE with its emphasis on mass-participation activity was insignificant compared to this emerging international trend. Sources that take a judgemental stand towards LO and OBE influenced the perspective taken in this study. Research for this study used critical theory as a means of expressing dissent.

Key words: Physical education; Life orientation; Outcomes-based education; Politics; South Africa.


Journal Identifiers

print ISSN: 0379-9069