About the Author(s)

Cherese F. Jones Email symbol
Department of Humanities Education, Faculty of Education, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa

Department of Education and Curriculum Studies, Faculty of Education, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa

Charl J. Roux symbol
Department of Sport and Human Movement Studies, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa


Jones CF, Roux CJ. Values-based Physical Education for the intermediate schooling phase in a diverse South African context. J transdiscipl res S Afr. 2021;17(1), a1092. https://doi.org/10.4102/td.v17i1.1092

Original Research

Values-based Physical Education for the intermediate schooling phase in a diverse South African context

Cherese F. Jones, Charl J. Roux

Received: 31 May 2021; Accepted: 18 July 2021; Published: 27 Sept. 2021

Copyright: © 2021. The Author(s). Licensee: AOSIS.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Participation in physical activity, Physical Education (PE) and sport has been recognised as a powerful learning tool for education, providing a universal language for contributing to valuable life principles. Values-based education implies that learners are educated about the aspects determining their behaviour. Values-based PE, physical activities and sport have the potential to transcend diversity and achieve cohesion, promote tolerance and trust and affirm respect between individuals and communities. The goal of PE can be to contribute to the acceptance of the infinite qualities of South Africa’s diversity and to claim the country’s diversity as a source of strength that forms a bond of a common set of values. There has been a global change in the interaction of learners with their environment; their lives are shaped by forces that do not necessarily assist them to learn and apply values. A PE programme infused with the values of Olympism and Ubuntuism can offer an investment in individual and societal improvement as the co-evolutionary interaction of these values and how they affect each learner can add to the celebration of human diversity. The question this study set out to answer was how can PE be used as a tool to teach values. Thus, the study aimed to inform the development of a values-based PE programme for the intermediate schooling phase. This qualitative study, from a constructivist paradigm, has enhanced the understanding of individuals’ cultures, beliefs and values, human experiences and situations. Purposeful sampling, of 10 intermediate phase teachers from five different public primary schools sought information-rich cases. The theoretical perspectives of the experiential learning theory were applied to teaching PE during in-service PE teacher training workshops. The process was documented by collecting data from multiple sources. Participatory action research was used, determining how data were collected, analysed and presented on an ongoing, cyclical basis. This study developed material for the intermediate phase PE curriculum that underpins the values of Olympism and Ubuntuism as core values, which were modelled by teachers and guided their work. The PE programme included key elements of and aligned with the study aims of the subject Life Skills. The outcomes of using PE as a tool to teach values propose recommendations to the Department of Basic Education of South Africa, to improve and implement a quality PE curriculum that is applicable to practice and that will optimise the chances of meeting National Curriculum Statement standards. Further research is recommended on the rest of the intermediate phase PE curriculum over the entire year, which includes other movement phenomena infused with values.

Keywords: diversity; intermediate phase; Olympism; physical education; Ubuntuism; values-based education; values-based physical education.


There is a global change in the interaction of learners with their environment, their lives are shaped by forces that do not necessarily assist them to learn and apply values. Thompson stated that sociocultural factors, global factors and political factors further complicate the processes of helping learners to develop positive values.1 In most countries today, the responsibility for developing values is assigned to schools in formal teaching settings. Values-based education (VBE) implies that learners are educated about the aspects determining their behaviour.1 The unique challenge to educators is how to make values come alive so that learners choose to live them. Khalifa, Gooden and Davis argued that if values are not deliberately taught it has no effect.2 Australian primary school research suggests that effective pedagogical practices are based on the explicit teaching of values3 through making values tangible and concrete.4

By attempting to make values tangible and concrete the question, this study would like to answer is how can Physical Education (PE) be used as an educational tool to teach values in today’s society. In the South African school curriculum, known as the Curriculum Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS), PE is a study area within the subject Life Skills5 and offers a balanced methodology to educate and develop learners holistically and is consistent with the educational mission of schools globally.6 A number of authors have also alluded to the range of developmental benefits that can derive from learners’ participation in PE.7 A quality PE (QPE) curriculum provides learning opportunities for physical activity, appropriate instruction, challenging and meaningful content, learner and curriculum assessment and the employment of highly qualified PE teachers.8 In the South African context PE is taught to varied learners in diverse and unique environments. The concept of diversity, as Westwood explains, entails understanding that each individual is unique and recognising each individual’s differences. These differences can be along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs or other ideologies.9 What each teacher brings to the PE experience in terms of these differences as well as value, qualifications and perceptions of PE is also different.10 The goal of PE in South Africa can be to contribute to, as remarked by Kader Asmal, the acceptance of the ‘infinite qualities of South Africa’ diversity and to claim South Africa’ diversity as a source of strength’ that forms a universal bond of a common set of values.11 An educational strategy in the Manifesto of Values in South Africa is founded on the potential of PE, physical activities and sport to transcend diversity and achieve cohesion, promote tolerance and trust and affirm respect between individuals and communities arbitrarily kept apart in the past. A key educational strategy of the manifesto aims at seeding values in young South Africans through the educational system. The belief is that values will evolve, become rooted and flourish.12 One of the interests of physical educators should be in how social issues circumscribe and interfuse with their work13 and that a values-based (VB) PE curriculum could emphasise the celebration of human diversity.

My heartfelt notion of a PE programme interrelated with the values of Olympism (global context) and Ubuntuism (South African context) arose from a context in which both views are concerned with the development of humankind and the oneness of humanity. Olympism is a philosophy of life, exalting and combining in a balanced whole, the qualities of body, will and mind, blending sport with culture and education.14 Olympism includes both Olympic and Paralympic values: excellence, respect, friendship, determination, inspiration, courage and equality.15 Ubuntuism in a philosophical view means, the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity.16 The values (survival, solidarity, sharing, compassion, communalism, dignity, love and respect) are the core social values practised and it has become a way of life and explains why Ubuntu is ‘enormously valuable as an experience and concept because the meaning it conveys is at the heart of all human, helping relationships’.17 The values of Olympism and Ubuntuism unite PE, physical activity, sport and humanism and together it can result in a VB framework fit for a PE programme in a diverse South African context.

A PE programme infused with the values of Olympism and Ubuntuism can be integrated through teacher education and teachers making it part of their practice. The aim of this study was thus to develop a VB PE programme aligned with the current intermediate phase (learners generally aged between 10 and 12 years old) PE curriculum, by offering in-service PE teacher training workshops (TTWs) to intermediate phase teachers in the Tshwane District of South Africa. The following objectives have been formulated: Firstly, to describe, discuss and conceptualise VB PE for the development of learners in a diverse PE classroom. Secondly, to describe, discuss and conceptually analyse the nature, place and value of PE as an educational tool regarding the potential role thereof within the South African curriculum. The theoretical framework of this study consists of Kolb’s experiential learning theory.18 The experiential learning theory is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience. The theory suggests that learners need support to translate learning from one context to another.19 The educational implication is that the theory could be used by PE teachers to critically evaluate the learning provision typically available to the learners and to develop more appropriate learning opportunities. PE teachers could also ensure that PE activities are designed and carried out in ways that offer all learners the chance to engage in a manner that suits them best. Designing activities in this way rules out Vince’s criticism, as he believed that the experiential learning theory fails to focus on the here and now of experience, instead gives undue status to retrospective reflection.20 Whilst addressing the PE lesson content that is infused with values in a context-specific learning situation based on the experiential learning theory, learners can be invited throughout the PE lesson to reflect, analyse and discuss situations with the teacher and their peers.21 Reflecting on, analysing and discussing situations is a crucial part of the learning process and that is why teachers were encouraged to imitate the application of the experiential learning theory, during the school term, to put into practice what they had learned during the TTW. This study is significant as there are a limited number of researches that have examined how PE teachers can facilitate the development of values in PE learners.22,23,24 Particularly in a South African context, specialised in-service teacher training about VB PE could contribute to practice by meeting the aim of the subject Life Skills, which is contributing to equipping learners with knowledge, skills and values that assist them to achieve their full physical, intellectual, personal, emotional and social potential.5

Research methods and design

This qualitative study, from a constructivist paradigm, can enhance one’s understanding of individuals’ cultures, beliefs and values, human experiences and situations and enables one to develop and reflect on the knowledge that describes these experiences.25,26,27,28 In this study participatory action research was used, which is a subset of action research. Participatory action research is the systematic collection and analysis of data for the purpose of taking action and making change by generating practical knowledge.29 In collaboration with 10 participating teachers, from five different schools, through the TTW we developed a PE programme enriched with values. The location of the schools represents a variety of socio-economic areas within South Africa. The participants were all employees of a South African public Primary School, teaching PE to the intermediate phase at their respective schools in the Tshwane District of South Africa. The purposeful sampling of diverse individuals from diverse schools was to maximise the similarities and the differences of information. The purpose was to document unique and diverse variations, which have emerged in adapting to different conditions and to identify important common patterns that cut across variations.30

The cyclical process of the phases of inquiry in the action research spiral model as identified by Kemmis, McTaggart and Nixon is presented (Figure 1).31 The cyclical process comprises planning for the TTW, taking action to present and implement the TTW and fact-finding, which is observation and reflection about the findings of the action. The process alternated between action and critical reflection. We applied the theoretical perspectives of Kolb’ experiential learning theory18 to teaching PE. The spiral model allowed for constantly testing the theory against the critical responses of the participating teachers, to see if the theory could withstand criticism. The data collection methods that were used in this study are also presented in the model.

FIGURE 1: Adapted action research spiral model and data collection methods.

Data were collected from three TTW using a variety of methods to ensure the validity of the research findings.32 The TTW was conducted before, during and at the end of the first school term, consisting of 10 weeks. Before the start of the TTW, teachers completed the pre-TTW questionnaire. It presented the demographic data and background of the participants and the respective schools they are teaching at. The questionnaire assisted with the first planning cycle of the TTW, as these informed us about the teachers’ existing PE pedagogical knowledge before attending the TTW. The early cycles were used to help decide how to conduct the later cycles. In the later cycles, the interpretations developed in the early cycles were tested, challenged and refined.33 During the TTW, the researchers and the participating teachers experimented and co-learnt through participating in micro-lessons. We completed lesson plans and video recorded the lessons, which teachers could refer back to during the school term. After the TTW there were focus group interviews about Olympism and Ubuntuism, the teachable moments during the delivery of VB PE in a diverse, safe, motivating setting and to understand how to plan, deliver and assess VB PE.

The researchers observed a VB PE lesson of each teacher once at their respective schools. The observation recording sheet helped for observations to be consistent in using the observation criteria. The criteria related to the teachers’ and learners’ non-verbal behaviour, their location, the environment and a general overview of the participating teachers’ pedagogical performance and techniques. In supporting the observations photographs were used, none of the photographs were published. The photographs were also used to validate the teacher’s views expressed during the focus group interviews. Teachers were invited throughout the lesson planning and implementation to reflect, analyse and discuss situations with one another. Peterson and Kolb emphasised that reflecting on, analysing and discussing situations formed a crucial part of the learning process and that is why teachers were encouraged to imitate the theoretical perspectives of the experimental learning theory during PE lesson planning and implementation.34 The knowledge intervention after the lesson planning and implementation allowed the participating teachers to give feedback and reflect on the TTW and the development of a VB PE programme. During several cycles, reflections were evaluated in preparation for modifying the practices planned for the implementation of the TTW in subsequent cycles.

Data analysis took place throughout the data collection process through inductive analysis and constant comparison and informed the ongoing intervention. The textual, graphical and audio data were analysed using the computer software ATLAS.ti (Version 8, 2020)35 after the data were transcribed. The textual, graphical and audio data form the basis of the themes identified across the entire data set. Five interrelated themes were identified. For the purpose of this study only the theme relating to PE as a tool to teach values, will be presented and discussed in the section to follow. Findings from this analysis were grounded in the tenets of the participatory action research process, that is, if something needed changing or altering, the researchers were able to make changes.33 Peer debriefing was an important part of the process, the researchers analysed and critiqued the data during data collection and analysis and made a decision as to when theoretical saturation was achieved. The phases of inquiry, as explained by Herr and Anderson,36 were completed by achieving sufficient understanding of the problem through the development of a VB PE programme.

Presentation and discussion of findings

The aim of this study was the development of a PE programme infused with the values of Olympism and Ubuntuism, aligned with the current intermediate phase PE curriculum of South Africa. The pre-TTW questionnaire informed us about the teachers’ existing PE pedagogical knowledge before attending the TTW. The findings of the pre-TTW questionnaire summarised that teachers teach PE without being trained as PE teachers.37 Of the participating teachers, 70% had a qualification after Grade 12, whilst the majority of the respondents had an education degree, which is considered adequate to teach the intermediate phase learner. It can be argued whether the qualification is adequate to teach QPE, as five responses, related to the CAPS, showed that the CAPS was not used as a guideline to teach PE and that some had no knowledge of what the CAPS is. Furthermore, it is questionable whether the teachers can interpret the CAPS, as there was no response indicating that the participating teachers had any idea of how to interpret the CAPS. This is alarming, as it adds to the barriers to teaching QPE as specified by the CAPS as a result of unqualified teachers.38,39,40,41,42,43 The pre-TTW questionnaires provided information that was relevant and provided contextual knowledge relating to the TTW and teachers’ ability to apply this to their practice.

During the TTW the use of the experiential learning theory to teach PE was appropriate, as the collaboration between participating teachers had the potential to strengthen the ‘appreciation’ when teaching learners, as the teachers were conceivably aware of what they had experienced during the TTW.18 Co-learning with other PE teachers was effective and beneficial in sharing one another’s knowledge.33 Teachers felt responsible for teaching values and being the role model of the values framework of Olympism and Ubuntuism. The teachers also mentioned their awareness of the pronounced impact VB PE could have in a disconnected society. Wambari argued that a school’s society has to espouse the same agreed values as those supported in schools. He highlights the Kenyan context of VBE and says that it has to be viewed from three existing systems of education: formal, non-formal and informal schooling, which may be at cross purposes. Wambari also stated that a school will find it hard to transmit certain values when the society of which it is a part lives according to different values.44 A participating teacher stated that in contrast to the school environment, the learner in society also poses a challenge:

‘It seems like the school environment is Mars – it is isolated from the real South Africa.’ (71:9, teacher, 18 March 2020)

In accordance with Wambari, a participating teacher during the cycle of reflection similarly referred to the school environment (planet Mars) agreed on certain values and that the rest of society (planet Earth) agreed on other values. The participating teacher also mentioned that the school environment feels isolated from the real South Africa. The isolation can be explained in the light of widespread examples of unethical behaviour in adult sport.45,46,47 A participating teacher felt strongly that there is a need to minimise the infiltration of such behaviour into PE, physical activity and youth sport:

‘There are a lot of factors influencing our lives. The media, TV, professional sportspeople. Not just the lives of our learners but our own lives, as teachers and members of society. We need to constantly do retrospection and reflect about our teaching and the example we are to the learners (model values).’ (71:29, teacher, 18 March 2020)

Sport and physical activity have become more professional and commercialised and there is increased pressure to win rather than simply to take part. In South Africa and the rest of the world, there is a value dilemma, which is obvious in the prioritisation of values by different people and groups of people.48 Two inherent characteristics of values that were particularly pertinent to the participating teachers to understand conflicts and dilemmas are as follows: Firstly, whether or not learners cheat during physical activities in PE is influenced by their values framework. That refers to the relative priorities they give to different values. For example, within the values framework, the question is whether excellence or equality is more important to them or whether both are equally important. Secondly, an understanding of the value structure; this is the extent to which different values are naturally compatible or conflicting. Such understanding can assist to identify those situations in which values are most likely to be in conflict and also the particular values that can be promoted to reduce conflict. Habermas and Lovat argued that levels of understanding or ‘ways of knowing’ can assist teachers in addressing diversity in planning and teaching, as well as facilitating reflection, analysis and discussion between learners about the value being taught.49,50,51 It is important that schools continue to educate learners about values, a QPE programme creates an opportunity to teach values where learners can share their experiences. Furthermore, Stidder and Hayes asserted that PE can be a tool to teach values that go beyond the classroom, just like the Football 4 Peace and Rugby 4 Peace programmes, taking what is learned on the sports field into everyday life.52

During the implementation of the VB PE programme, a participating teacher mentioned during the focus group interview that PE has the potential as an educational tool to teach the values of Olympism and Ubuntuism in today’s diverse South African society:

‘With a suggested values framework like Ubuntu and Olympics, I think it is a good starting point. It is simple enough for a learner to understand. If we can lay down the basics, hopefully, it can contribute to a child’s life. Friendship, respect and determination, for example, are what will add value to one’ life. A framework instilled can contribute to exploring other values.’ (69:20, teacher, 12 February 2020)

Department of Education Science and Training (DEST) defines VBE as any explicit and/or implicit school-based activity to promote learner understanding and knowledge of values and to inculcate the skills and dispositions of learners so they can enact particular values as individuals and as members of the wider society.53 The experiential learning theory suggests that learners learned from what the teachers and other learners said and what they did as they translated the values of Olympism and Ubuntuism into their realities.19 One method to teach values explicitly and deliberately; as a participating teacher called it is to use a ‘values language’. Teachable moments provided prime learning opportunities in a diverse classroom for teaching values by reflecting on significant situations in each PE lesson. The potential lies in the teachable moments that the physical activities create to teach and discuss values. A teacher reflected on his teachable moment:

‘When a learner is not putting in the effort you can mention, remember to excel (Olympic value) you need to put in the work.’ (71:5, teacher, 18 March 2020)

During observations there were always systematic interactions between learners and teachers, but it was not always evident through observation that learning took place. A notable reflection about an observation is that of a teacher who did not mention any value throughout the VB PE lesson. During the reflection at the end of the lesson, the teacher asked about a specific value; surprisingly the class identified the value. There were conflicting ideas between the researchers about deliberately teaching values. One is that the teacher should mention the values being taught. Another is that a teacher should identify a teachable moment and again point out the values. Yet during this specific class, the learners understood the values by just participating in the physical activity planned for the VB PE lesson. This specific observation also highlighted the potential of PE as a tool to teach values.

During an observation, the participating teachers recalled that the lesson plan helped with planning for diversity in different teachable moment scenarios. The teachers said:

‘The learners are fearful of getting a bad mark, fear of not performing as well as their peers because of being overweight and not being able to keep up with the rest.’ (71:12, teachers, 18 March 2020)

As well as:

‘I liked the way we stressed the importance of diversity during lesson planning to equip each learner to participate in PE in their way, to express themselves, to have fun. In this way one can find a way to personally motivate each learner according to their skill level, to improve their skill and not to be compared with higher-skilled learners.’ (69:11, teacher, 12 February 2020)

Stidder and Hayes supported that linking specific positive behaviour to certain values aids in the development of forming a learners’ value system. Physical education is often referred to as the best study area in which this is performed deliberately.52 According to Bailey, to empower youth in society, educating learners in PE about the importance of their well-being will lead to well-adjusted competitive and social behaviour when participating in any physical activities for recreation or participating competitively in sport.23 Trost affirmed that the role of PE as a study area within Life Skills in the South African curriculum remains important, as the school environment serves as an excellent setting to provide learners with daily opportunities to be physically active, to educate learners about the importance of daily physical activity for their well-being and to build skills and values that support an active lifestyle.54

The researchers reflected that the participating teachers were willing to experiment with teaching the values of Olympism and Ubuntuism in their PE practices. The teachers showed enthusiasm and motivation to share QPE practices, as they understood the importance of careful planning, in order not to lose the quality of VB PE. The participating teachers reflected that they felt relieved about returning to their everyday practices because the new approach put great demands on them to plan additionally, think differently and experiment with VB PE content and practice. They mentioned that:

‘Values are very personal, so it is complex. One will only really know the severity of the complexity once you start teaching and over time these aspects can be addressed.’ (69:19 , teachers, 12 February 2020)

During the intervention, the participating teachers made significant efforts to apply VB PE with fidelity in their practice, something that often caused them feelings of nervousness, embarrassment and uncertainty, as they had to plan for diversity. A participating teacher reflected that:

‘I get caught up in my old ways of teaching. For example teaching gender-based sporting codes, I assume from experience that boys do not want to play netball, girls do not want to play cricket. It is finding games that both genders can play, because I find learners in my school enjoy it to be mixed.’ (69:16 , teacher, 12 February 2020)

Teachers were brave to experiment with teaching values even when not knowing how learners would react. Lesson planning was of great support to a teacher as she felt that:

‘Careful planning is in order not to lose the quality of VB PE, as one tends to fall back on default and teach only what you think is important.’ (71:2, teacher, 18 March 2020)

The challenges to teach values in a diverse classroom such as time and space constraints, large classes of learners, extra duty teacher obligations and lack of practical support, hindered the teachers’ efforts to reach their own predetermined teaching goals. A participating teacher emphasised that time constraints were a challenge in planning PE infused with values:

‘Some learners did not understand a value, like compassion or equity, you first had to explain it to them, maybe in length, this took up time of your PE lesson.’ (69:5, teacher, 12 February 2020)

Relevant literature from several authors supports the given challenge by confirming that teachers struggle with time and/or managerial issues that influence their reflection practice and teaching attitudes negatively.55,56 Despite some challenges, from the teachers’ responses, it became evident that the teachers tried hard to step back from their directive role and give their learners’ the chance to experiment with the values and make meaningful decisions on their own. The teachers reported that:

‘Learners are engaging without any pressure to excel’ and ‘The kids are more themselves in PE, it seems like you can approach them more especially with such a personal construct as their values or their perception of values.’ (71:6, teachers, 18 March 2020)

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) confirms that schools aim to safeguard the growth and development of learners and to prepare them for the existence of an individual human being outside the school environment.57 It is expected that learners will use the skills and knowledge learned in the study area PE in other physical activity opportunities, such as active recess, active transportation and school sports activities. The importance of PE as a tool to teach values was encountered at the last TTW as a teacher mentioned the importance of a specific subject or subject area to teach values. She mentioned:

‘We are moving past each other as a society. And this is exactly why I like the VB PE programme in totality because there needs to be a place, a subject or study area with content that addresses values. We need to constantly address values, over and over, because it will get lost.’ (71:9, teacher, 18 March 2020)

Kohl and Cook argued that PE programming has been identified as the foundation on which multicomponent or coordinated approaches incorporating other physical activity opportunities can be designed and promoted.58 Life Skills curriculum innovation focussing on PE has the potential for such a multicomponent or coordinated approach. In everyday life, one does not always witness the expression of the values that schools would generally espouse. Rens stated the importance of values and VBE programmes and that it is not being ignored; throughout the world, VBE programmes are developed, despite the understanding that classrooms are not the panacea of VBE.59 Espinoza contended that even teachers who welcome the return of values believe that there is a limit to what classrooms can accomplish and no end to what is expected of them. In the face of poverty, family instability and social disorganisation, parents want schools to fill a values vacuum.60

An endeavour in schools for quality in PE is stated in the CAPS of South Africa.5 It states that participation in PE will nurture positive attitudes and values that will assist learners to be physically fit, mentally alert, emotionally balanced and socially well adjusted. Through teacher education, South African teachers can integrate the values of Olympism and Ubuntuism in a PE programme to appeal to the learners and their societies. The values of these ideologies were not forced upon the learners; each learner found their meaning in experiencing the values. The co-evolutionary interaction of these values and how they affect each learner can add to the celebration of human diversity.

Conclusion and recommendations

The VB PE programme enriched with the values of Olympism and Ubuntuism enacts effective PE teaching. Díaz-del-Cueto et al.,61 as well as Light and Fawns,62 agreed that teachers move from ‘teaching with telling’ to ‘teaching with creating the need to know’. This process seems frustrating and unrewarding, especially initially, because of the teachers’ habitual tendency to expect immediate and observable skill outcomes. A PE programme with a values framework instilled can contribute to exploring other values, as values can drive the entire learning venture. The values of Olympism and Ubuntuism had different meanings and appreciation for each learner, thus diversity was celebrated. With support from teachers, a PE programme based on the values of Olympism and Ubuntuism, can strive to ensure that the values set out in the South African constitution are part of Life Skills curriculum development.

Participatory Action Research (PAR) and its reflective practice influenced the teachers’ PE practice positively, as it assisted the researchers and the participating teachers to undertake a collective, self-reflective inquiry. Campbell, McNamara and Gilroy agreed as they believed both PAR and reflective methods are vital and will improve teaching practices in a significant way.63 Collaboration with the participating teachers was central to the reform or revision of PE infused with values that were achieved and that could be sustained over time. This study is limited as it focussed only on the first term intermediate phase PE curriculum. The key element that constitutes the PE programme, for the intermediate phase, enriched with values includes the following, and aligns with the subject aims of Life Skills, as prescribed by CAPS:5

  • The pedagogical approach of the PE programme is grounded in the philosophy of Olympism and Ubuntuism. The PE programme underpins the set of values of Olympism and Ubuntuism as core values that are modelled by teachers and guide their work.
  • The use of a lesson plan as a guide acted as support to the teachers and contributed to the execution of QPE lessons.
  • Teachable moments provided prime learning opportunities in a diverse classroom for teaching values by reflecting on significant situations in each PE lesson.
  • A reflective practice positively influenced the quality of the teachers’ PE practice.

This study was designed to develop new knowledge relating to VB PE. Further research is recommended on the curriculum development, infused with the values framework of Olympism and Ubuntuism, with all other ethnic groups in South Africa to develop a comprehensive PE curriculum for all South African learners. This study represents the documentation of collaboration that generated a PE programme and may be used as a case study of not only the process but also the product of the collaboration, upon which other researchers can build and improve.

The values framework should not be exclusive but rather indicative of baseline values, which might be regarded as the same for all, regardless of ethnic, religious, gender or other differences. The values can be described as ‘hooks to hang the hats on’, rather than intended to limit PE pedagogy. A document that emerged from a working group facilitated by the South African Department of Education, suggested an approach where democratic values are not formed through prescribing values that are communicated by teachers but by providing learners with experiences that cultivate these values.11 The participating teachers did not force the values of Olympism and Ubuntuism upon the learners, but each learner found their meaning in experiencing the values as pointed out by the teachers as they questioned, probed, assessed and reflected during teachable moments.

Using PE as a tool to teach the values of Olympism and Ubuntuism offers an investment in individual and societal improvement. The outcomes of using PE as a tool to teach values propose recommendations to the Department of Basic Education of South Africa, to improve and implement a QPE curriculum that is applicable to practice and that will optimise the chances of meeting National Curriculum Statement standards. Sattelmair and Ratey supported that PE is an important factor that contributes to learners’ well-being, as participation in PE inspires and instills lasting healthy behavioral patterns.64 The effect of COVID-19 resulted in learners’ well-being being compromised. It was estimated in April 2020 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation that 138 countries had closed their schools to some extent.65 Van Lancker and Parolin confirmed that this resulted in the educational disruption of approximately 80% of learners worldwide.66 Only certain study areas received priority to be taught in schools during the pandemic. PE, art and music were not first on the priority list. PE is further losing its identity as a consequence of the current COVID-19 situation because of the lack of direct contact with learners. The European PE Association stated that PE is being advocated internationally as a critical face-to-face experience for learners.67 Varea and González-Calvo supported this statement acclaiming that PE cannot be unstructured physical activities over digital media.68 All stakeholders involved in the planning and implementation of PE in South Africa cannot simply continue measuring the happenings inside PE without taking account of the forces outside school that are shaping the substance of what teachers teach. PE, as specified in the CAPS, focusses on addressing various social issues and is offered at schools to improve learner retention and academic performance.5 Although PE and sport-related practices are not a panacea against entrenched social ‘ills’ (i.e. depression, obesity, drug and alcohol abuse, teenage pregnancy and HIV), Burnett argued that there is evidence that it can contribute meaningfully to behavioural and lifestyle changes.69


The authors would like to acknowledge all relevant people, committees and authorities who were consulted, and the principles guiding this study were accepted before commencing the study. To ensure objectivity and transparency in this study and to ensure that accepted principles of ethical and professional conduct have been followed, the authors included the following information:

Competing interests

The authors have declared that no competing interest exist.

Authors’ contributions

C.J.R. and C.F.J. conceived of the presented idea. C.F.J. developed the theory and performed the computations. C.J.R. and C.F.J. verified the analytical methods. C.J.R. encouraged C.F.J. to investigate VB PE and supervised the findings of this work. All authors discussed the results and contributed to the final manuscript.

Ethical considerations

All relevant people, committees and authorities were consulted and the principles guiding this study were accepted before commencing the research. To ensure objectivity and transparency in this research and to ensure that accepted principles of ethical and professional conduct ethical clearance were received from the University of Johannesburg and permission to do research from the Department of Basic Eductation, South Africa, Sem 1 2019-060.

Funding information

The authors declare that they have no financial or personal relationships that may have inappropriately influenced the writing of the article.

Data availability

Raw data were generated at the University of Johannesburg. Derived data supporting the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author C.F.J. on request.


The views expressed in this article are of the authors’ own and not an official position of any institution or funder.


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