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Ministry of Youth & Sports


[1950s and '60s]
[The 1990s]

Download National Youth Award Programme in Mauritius]

The Award Programme is based on the philosophy of Kurt Hahn, a German educationalist, who developed many of his ideas from the study of Plato. Hahn was founder and headmaster of Gordonstoun School in Scotland, where Prince Philip was a student. At Gordonstoun, Hahn instituted a badge system which included Athletics, Swimming and Expeditions on land and at sea. This was later extended to include any boy in the county.
Plans to extend this system nationwide were shelved by the outset of the second world war. However, it was during this period that Hahn set up the first Outward Bound School in Wales. In the UK in the early '50s there was growing concern about the problems of youth which were aggravated by the gap between leaving school at 15 and entering National Service at 18. It was against this background that the Duke of Edinburgh's Award was set up in 1956, by HRH Prince Philip, Kurt Hahn and Lord Hunt, leader of the first successful ascent of Everest.
(The Award Programme in 13 Countries)
The Award was launched in 1956 for boys between the ages of 14 and 18 and had a four section programme:
Rescue and Public Service
The Expedition
Pursuits and Projects
There was great demand for a similar scheme for girls, and this was launched in September 1958, differing in several fundamentals from the Boys', placing less emphasis on physical challenge.
'Adventure' was preferred as a title to 'The Expedition' and as an option at Gold level girls could undertake Worthwhile Projects. A section called 'Design for Living', embracing a wide range of home making skills, replaced 'Fitness'. The other two sections remained the same but girls were required to undertake an additional Residential experience at Gold level.
By 1961, the Award was being operated in 13 countries.
Building on the experience of the 1960s and recognising the growing trend towards joint activities, the Award Programme was in 1969 re-presented as one scheme for all young people and the upper age limit was once again extended, to 21 years.
Participation in the re-titled Sections— 'Service', 'Expeditions and Interests'—was required of both sexes at all levels of the Award, whilst at Bronze and Silver levels the girls took 'Design for Living' and the boys, 'Physical Activity'. At the Gold level participants could choose one or other of these two sections and the whole programme was given a more adult look.
The 1970s
(The Award Programme in 31 Countries)
Throughout the '70s, consolidation of the Award was taking place and the first international meetings were held. All major NAAs were consulted when the major review of the programme, which took place in 1979.
A straightforward four Section Programme, comprising 'Service', 'Expeditions', 'Skills' and 'Physical Recreation', which would be common to all participants, was agreed upon. The upper age limit was once again extended, to 25.
The 1980s
It was now time to share more universally the responsibility for both the promotion of the Award worldwide and the provision of resources to meet that commitment. Thus in the early '80s, the first steps were taken towards international partnership which led to the formation of The International Award Association in 1988 and the World Fellowship in 1987 to provide its financial base.
Throughout the '80s the Award spread to more and more countries, noticeably outside the Commonwealth. By 1989, 48 countries operated the scheme on a national basis and there was considerable global interest in the programme, particularly amongst French-speaking countries, thus indicating the true international appeal of the Award.
The 1990s
Throughout the '90s the Award has grown from strength to strength internationally. International forums held in Hong Kong in 1991, Mauritius in 1994, and New Zealand in 1997 have seen the Association grow to 60 members and consolidate the operation of the Award worldwide.
The Association adapted its Mission Statement in 1994 and at the same time established a corporate identity by adopting new marques to represent the International Award for Young People and the International Award Association. Common to both logos is the global bird, which symbolises the values of the Award Programme-self improvement, excellence, confidence and pride.
NAAs may use the global bird or an adaptation of it as their logo to signify membership of a worldwide family.
1956 Launch of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award UK—for boys only
1958 Launch of the Girls' Scheme
1969 Revision of Conditions—one scheme for all young people
1982 First International Award Forum—Edinburgh
1983 Overseas Department re-designated International Secretariat. Establishment of International Fund.
1988 Formal establishment of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award International Association
1991 4th International Award Forum—Hong Kong
5th International Award Forum—Mauritius
1997 6th International Award Forum—New Zealand
1999 Foundation becomes charitable company limited by guarantee
East and Southern Africa - Indian Ocean Regional Award Committee