National Youth Award
This programme, formerly known as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, was launched in Mauritius in 1966. It is a complete training programme for young people aged 14 to 25 years, presenting to them a balanced non-competitive programme of voluntary activities which encourage personal discovery and growth, self reliance, perseverance, responsibility to themselves and service to the community. In Mauritius, the Award Programme has so far attracted more than 35,000 young people. With a youth population of about 220,000, this level of participation is highly commendable. The programme commands great respect in all areas and it has become a way of life among young people strongly supported by parents, heads of schools and employers.
From 1983 onwards, the Award Programme was given a new impetus and its success story started. Firstly, the Award was marketed in all Colleges and Youth Organisations and even in industries. This programme was extended a few years later, to the disabled and inmates of rehabilitation institutions. Gold Awardees were called upon to assist in the organisation of most National Events in the country. They are involved in the participation of many national projects undertaken by the Ministry of Youth and Sports. Examples are, “Jeux de L’Avenir”, “Jeux de L’Espoir”, Environmental Projects, Community Services and Special Vacances.
In January 1987, the programme was restyled as National Youth Award. The scheme retains the fundamental principles, and remains strongly linked with and entirely based on the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. The change in appelletion enables the desired changes to be effected to suit local conditions.
The National Youth Award continues to be one of the popular youth development programmes of the Ministry which instills in young people a deep sense of responsibility and the need for hard work and develops a spirit of dedication and nationhood. It also harnesses the drive and energy of young people towards creative and outdoor activities.
The Award Scheme has something for everyone – something that breaks down all barriers and provides that vital framework to expand and develop and see that there is more to life than yourself and material gains. Young people today are fully aware and convinced that leisure activities need not only be fulfilling, but can change their whole perspective in life, indeed change their lives completely.
The role of the National Youth Award is assuming greater importance, hence the need to encourage the expansion of the Scheme throughout the island.
Mauritius is now considered as one of the most consistently successful Award Operators over the last decade. In 1984, Mauritius as a French Speaking Country played a leading role in the introduction of the Award Programme in Francophone countries of Africa. Through the initiative of Mauritius, the scheme gathered momentum in these countries and in 1990 it was introduced in France also under the appellation of “Mérite de la Jeunesse”. At present some ten (countries in the African continent are fully involved in the programme.
The successful implementation of this programme has promoted the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award International Secretariat to elect Mauritius as the venue for the holding of the 5th Meeting of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award International Forum.
His Royal Highness Prince Edward, paid an official visit to Mauritius from 26 to 28 April, 1993, to finalise arrangements in connection with the proposed forum. The Forum, which meets once every three years under the Chairmanship of His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, KG, KT will be held from 24 to 28 October, 1994, and group representatives of all countries running Youth Award Schemes. About 212 delegates from some 60 countries are expected to attend the forum.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s belief in young people has urged him not only to start this programme, but to stay with it, continuously seeking its improvement and extending its spheres of operation. In 1982, the first International forum was organised to gather the World Family of the Award. This “Family Reunion” has continued, since then, every three years in a different country, and this time Mauritius is proud to be the host of such a distinguished gathering. This move has been made possible through the generous contribution of the private sector. The Patrons of the Forum, and Members of the International Association, contributed a sum of no less than £10,000 (i.e, around Rs 275,000) each for the promotion of educational and leisure activities for young people. It is the first time that such a huge contribution from the private sector is devoted for the social development of young people.
This Forum will also be a splendid opportunity for the Fellows and Patrons of the Award, who are also established businessmen in their countries to meet Mauritian counterparts in order to explore business opportunities in Mauritius.
This Forum, therefore, has a three-pronged objective:
First, the strengthening and promotion of the Award
Programme and the harmonious interrelationship of all
Award Authorities Worldwide;
Second, the indirect opening of our country as a unique
and enjoyable tourist destination; and
Third, the discovery of the business opportunities
The structure of the National Youth Award, which has experienced a sustained growth during the last years has been improved with a view to receiving a greater number of recruits and ascertaining an effective follow-up. The Flic-en-Flac Outdoor Centre is now the base camp for the National Youth Award. Improvement of the Centre is being carried out phasewise, to respond to the flow of young people all the year round.