Learning is an activity that demands a lot of dedication and passion. Some factors can hinder the process from running smoothly and so an adjustment may be due. There are many factors which can be responsible for this, but they come down to two categories: extrinsic and intrinsic barriers. Extrinsic and extrinsic barriers and their examples will be discussed including how they may hinder learning. Implications of these factors in the South African context will also be discussed.

Extrinsic barriers

Extrinsic barriers are factors are factors outside of the learners but that can have negative effects or cause difficulties to them learning.

There is a diverse type of learners and these factors may limit them from acquiring enough knowledge. There is a lot of extrinsic barriers to learning. Learners are not to blame for these barriers as they are not in their control. These circumstances may inflict stress and anxiety on the learner of which are not good for learning. The barriers at school context may include overcrowding learners in desks, the frequent use of non-home language and school security problems.

Learners since birth are introduced to a language (home language) of which they become fluent with as they grow up. It is hard for them to familiarize themselves with another language other than that they know, especially when the home language is barely used or isn’t used at all. People think using their home language to make sense of what is happening and there may be difficulties for the learners to translate what they thought in another language.

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School security is another important factor. Learners may feel unsafe in a school that is less secure it may lead to them being fearful all the times and not pay full attention to learning.

Intrinsic barriers

These barriers have to do with conditions within the learner. They include medical conditions and disabilities. These barriers may result from accidents, birth complications and illness. Physical impairments, neurological conditions, sensory impairments and cognitive disabilities are examples of intrinsic barriers to learning (Nel, Nel & Hugo, 2016). Learners with these conditions are to be given more care. Physical impairments, for example may hinder the learner from full participation in physical activities. Cognitive disabilities may challenge the learners having them and may cause difficulties in the attainment of enough knowledge. These problems may make the learners feel different and blame themselves. Learners with cognitive difficulties, for example may feel left out if the teacher is not paying more attention to them. Experiencing or encountering these problems may cause the learners to experience emotional breakdown. These factors may be more critical, and some require more attention than others. Some change may need to occur and if it is done right, the learners can catch up.

Neurological conditions

The human brain is responsible for many complex functions. It may be a small organ, but it is able to control the human life. Due to its complexity, many things could go wrong in the human brain. This may lead to the arising of neurological conditions. Basically, neurological conditions are diseases that arise from brain failures. These barriers include epilepsy, stroke, ADHD and depression. These may affect learning in many ways. (A, Jacoby) A learner with epilepsy for example, may have social and psychological problems. Due to them experiencing seizers, it may lead to other people labelling them and thus lead to them having psychological and social problems. Also, they may have problems recalling information leading to poor academic progress.

Sensory impairments

Sensory impairments are when one of someone’s senses are no longer normal. Examples of sensory impairments include deafness and blindness. Some learners have difficulties seeing and hearing rather than not being able to see and hear at all. Such learners may have problems gasping the information taught by the teacher. Learners with sight problems, for example may have problems seeing what written on the blackboard and thus this may lead to them failing to comprehend the full information presented.


Poverty may be described as not having enough basic needs. It is found in all parts of the world, even in rich countries. Poverty has many negatives, especially for school children. Some children go to school haven’t not eaten, not by choice but due to the lack of food. Paying attention and participating in class activities requires energy. You find that the learners are doing everything in their power to gasp the information and be active in class, but due to starving, the information is not fully attained. Even a country like Canada faces poverty and they get to witness its negative effects on families and education (Yalnizyan A Ontario). Also, poverty can lead to the poor being judged in school and labelled for not affording to buy anything in school. These obviously will lower the child’s self esteem and lead to decline in academic progress.

Inflexible curriculum

Inflexible curriculum is one that does not meet learners’ diverse needs. It focuses on ‘essential needs’ while leaving others aside. Inflexible curriculum usually leaves out learners with barriers, be it extrinsic or intrinsic. Curriculum needs to include all learners, be it they have disabilities to learning or not.

Implications for extrinsic and intrinsic barriers in South Africa

Inclusive education has been implemented in South Africa to accommodate all learners. Inclusion in the South African context can be defined as an implication for education for all. Universal Design for Learning (UDL) can be put in use to improve the learning environment and new technologies can be used (Hitchcock, Meyer, Rose & Jackson, 2002). Inclusion is all about building a classroom environment suited for all learners, including learners with extrinsic and intrinsic barriers. It plans on eradicating certain terms like ‘learners with special educational needs’ and replace them with terms like ‘learners with barriers to learning and development’. Although inclusive education seems to be the perfect solution to learning and development, there may be some challenges implementing it. These challenges include: learners having needs that are too diverse for one class, overcrowded classes and learners not learning in their mother tongue while being taught poorly in the Language of Learning and Teaching (LOLT). Despite the challenges, inclusive education has had much positive impacts on education.

In conclusion, inclusive education in South Africa is far from being perfect. There are a few improvements that need to be done, like including a few policies and giving choice to learners with disabilities to learning the school they would prefer (mainstream or special school).


1. Jacoby, A. (1992). Epilepsy and the quality of everyday life: findings from a study of people with well-controlled epilepsy. Social science & medicine, 34(6), 657-666.

2. Nel, M., Nel, N., & Hugo, A. (2016). Inclusive education: An introduction. Learner support in a diverse classroom: A guide for foundation, intermediate and senior phase teachers of language and mathematics, 3-33.

3. Yalnizyan, A. (2007). Ontario’s Growing Gap. Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

4. Hitchcock, C., Meyer, A., Rose, D., & Jackson, R. (2002). Providing New Access to the General Curriculum: Universal Design for Learning. TEACHING Exceptional Children, 35(2), 8–17.

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Inclusive learning. (2019, Nov 14). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/inclusive-learning-best-essay/

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