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Physical Education in South Africa: Have we come full circle?

Leoni C.E. Stroebel
Johnnie Hay
Hermanus J. Bloemhoff


Physical Education (PE) in South Africa has been on the receiving end of curriculum reform with far-reaching consequences. Prior to 1994, PE existed as a stand-alone school subject. In 1997, PE was reduced to a learning outcome of a new learning area titled, Life Orientation, within the new curriculum, Curriculum 2005. Shortly thereafter, a Revised National Curriculum Statement (R-NCS) was established. A second revision of the curriculum followed in 2009, resulting in Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements for each subject. The purpose of this article is to outline the historical development of Physical Education as subject/partial-subject in South Africa from before 1994 until the present, with regard to the content, state and status and teacher training. The actual implementation, as well as the proposed reinstatement of PE as a stand-alone subject, are addressed, in order to attempt elucidation of the question: “Have we come full circle?”

Key words: Physical Education; South Africa; Curriculum; Subject status; Implementation.