Sports for learners with physical disabilities in ordinary public primary schools in the Western Cape, South Africa

23 Nov 2012

In the Western Cape, learners with physical disabilities are accepted into ordinary schools (a school that is not a special school) as a part of the inclusive education initiative. This article reports on a survey designed to determine the types of sports that are available for learners with physical disabilities in ordinary public primary schools and the factors influencing their participation in sport. The study sample included 31 learners with physical disabilities (learners with movement or mobility difficulties or who used an assistive device) attending seven ordinary public primary schools, one teacher from each school and one teacher from each of eight conveniently selected special schools. Three questionnaires were used, one for the learners, another for the teachers at the ordinary schools and the third for the teachers at the special schools. Analysis was done using SPSS Version 15. The main findings of the study were that 32% (n=10) of learners participated in sports. They were expected to participate in the type of sports that were already offered at the school. No adapted sport was offered specifically for these learners. Most learners wanted to participate in swimming. Fewer types of sports were offered in ordinary schools than in special schools. Barriers to participation included poor teacher preparation and inadequate financial support. The shortage of support from school staff, occupational therapists and physiotherapists in addition to inadequate financial support needs to be addressed by the Department of Basic Education and Department of Sport and Recreation to enable the learners to participate in sports at ordinary schools.