The Inclusive Education Policy in Sport: Four Secondary Schools in Masvingo, District in the Republic of Zimbabwe.

AuthorMudyahoto, Tapiwa


An education which is inclusive hinges on the premise that all children with and without disabilities should learn, and do sporting activities together. Thus, those with same disability challenges should be provided with some materials to enable them to function fully (Flovian, 2017). This is based on the medical model which views disability as a medical problem, and therefore, it should be looked as medical challenges that must be treated or remedied by medical professionals (Langtree, 2010). Hence, a disability is a challenge of an individual, directly caused by disease, trauma or other health conditions which may require sustained medical care, a medical model that assumes that barriers to learning reside primarily within the learner and that learner support should take the form of specialist care, and typical interventions (Joshua, 2006).

In the same light, inclusive education in sport is an extension of a general inclusive education, where the concept looks at providing a child with a disability with support services such as sporting equipment and medical facilities where possible, as well as adapting the games to enable him/her to take part in sport.

The extent to which government has provided support services for children with disabilities in sport in Africa, and particularly in Zimbabwe has remained low as a result of unclear policies, poverty, lack of human and material resources, and because mainstream teachers' are unprepared to ensure inclusiveness in sport (Hay, Smit, Paulsen, 2001).

In this regard, the Zimbabwe Constitution, amendment number 20, Act of 2013 merely scratches the surface of the issue of the inclusion of children with disabilities in sport. It states that all institutions of government at any level within its limits of resources available must assist persons with physical or mental disabilities to achieve their full potential and minimize the disadvantages. However, the Constitution does not specify how other forms of disabilities such as blindness, deafness, dyslexia, autism and behavior problems may be assisted in regards to sport, and it is neither mandatory nor forceful in compelling schools/institutions to ensure that children with disabilities have enough support services to adequately take care of them during their sporting activities.

Further, the phrase "within limits of the resources available" gives institutions a way to either provide support services or not, hence making it not mandatory to provide support services. Thus, the Act is therefore too general, because it needed to state how each category of disability might need to be resourced and assisted in class and in sport. The Constitution is also silent on whether children with disabilities shall do sport, and the equipment to be availed. These issues seem to have been left to the teachers' discretion, which creates problems with the provision of support services in the implementation of the inclusive education policy in sport, since each school is likely to end up doing its own thing as most teachers are not trained to handle such cases.

Literature Review

Inclusive education in sport is an extension of general inclusiveness in education. However, in sport, the concept looks at providing children with disabilities with support services to enable them to take part in sport with those living without disabilities.

Contrary, the rights of people with disabilities have not been fully met throughout history, as people with disabilities at one time in the European context were portrayed as inhuman, evil and sick (Trent, 1994). Later they were viewed as sinners or possessed by the devil, and at times many would be exterminated or just left to die (Adams,Bell & Graffin 2007).

The mid-18th century saw the beginning of the Eugenics movement, whose aim was to improve the quality of human gene and protect society from those with physical or intellectual 'defects'. This then resulted in people with disabilities being segregated and hidden in institutions such as hospitals and special schools (Adams et al, 2007). The Eugenics movement continued to impede the rights of people with disabilities by enacting laws which restricted the movement of people with disabilities into the United States. These people were also not allowed to marry or have children, and in most cases were forced to be sterilized (Adams, Bell & Graffin 2007).

Hence in Africa, children with disabilities face barriers in the education system due to a variety of reasons (ACPF, 2011). In South Africa, this resulted in massive exclusion of children with disabilities from the education system (Department of Education, 2001). And despite the adoption of an inclusive education policy to address these imbalances, one of the challenges that hinders progress is lack of support services to differentiate the curriculum from the general type of educational services (Chataika, Mckenzie, Swart & Lyner-Cleophas, 2012).

Zimbabwe as a member of the United Nations (UN), has agreed to recognize the rights of people with disabilities through declarations passed by the United Nations Human Rights, including the ratification of the UN conventions and declarations such as: the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child (1989), the world conference on Education for All (1990),the Dakar Framework for Action (UNESCO, 2000), the United Nations Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities (1993) and the UNESCO Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action on Special Needs Education (1994). All these conventions and declarations came to pass as they stressed the need for regular schools to adopt an inclusive orientation as a way of curbing negative attitudes towards others and in the building of friendly environments through the provision of support services (Deppeler, Loreman, Smith & Florian 2015). The declarations also aim toward policy changes so as to promote inclusive education to enable schools to serve all children, especially those with disability challenges. Hence, the Salamanca document excludes the establishment of special schools which discriminates children with disabilities from their environment and advocates for inclusion based on a human rights model. Thus, it points out that ordinary schools should accommodate all children irrespective of their physical, social, emotional, linguistic or other forms of disabilities (Chireshe, 2011).

Further, as a signatory to those inclusive education related charters and conventions, Zimbabwe was mandated to initiate and support inclusive programs for people with disabilities. Strides have been made by drafting legislation, though it was not comprehensive and specific to the inclusion of people with disabilities, particularly in sport. The Education Act of 1987 amended in 1986 points out that every child in Zimbabwe shall have the right to education. It is important to take note that there is no mention of the rights of children with disabilities specifically. And, the Act does not give guidelines for the provision of support services to learners with disabilities during sport, or...

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