Duke of Edinburgh's Award

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Duke of Edinburgh's Award
Date 1956
Country United Kingdom and others
Reward Gold, Silver or Bronze (UK)
Official website http://www.dofe.org

The Duke of Edinburgh's Award (commonly abbreviated DofE), is the generic name for a youth awards programme founded in the United Kingdom in 1956 by Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh that has since expanded to 140 other countries. The awards recognise adolescents and young adults for completing a series of self-improvement exercises modelled on Kurt Hahn's solution to the "Six Declines of Modern Youth."

In the United Kingdom the programme is run by The Duke of Edinburgh's Award, a royal charter corporation. A separate entity, The Duke of Edinburgh's International Award Foundation, promotes the award abroad and acts as a coordinating body for award sponsors in other nations, which are organised into 62 National Award Authorities and a number of Independent Operators. Award sponsors in countries outside the United Kingdom may title their awards Duke of Edinburgh's Awards, though the recognition also operates under a variety of other names in countries without a historic link to the British monarchy, or that have severed such links.


In February 1956, The Duke of Edinburgh's Award was first announced.[1] It was at first "for boys" aged 15 to 18. It was first administered, and largely designed, by John Hunt, who had led the first successful climb of Everest in 1953, and had retired from the Army to run The Duke of Edinburgh's Award. It was designed to attract boys who had not been interested in joining one of the main British youth movements, such as the Scout Association. It was not necessary to 'join' any organisation, or wear a uniform to participate. In the first 12 months, 7,000 boys had enrolled for the scheme. The programme borrowed from the Moray Badge, instituted at Gordonstoun School by its headmaster, Kurt Hahn, in 1936, and the County Badge adopted in Moray in 1941.

In November 1957 it was announced that girls would be invited to participate. On Thursday 19 June 1958 the Award was extended to girls, with the first girls allowed to join from 1 September 1958.[2] The programme for girls was not the same as that for boys, and was for ages 14 to 20. The first girls received their Gold Awards on 3 November 1959 at Buckingham Palace. From January 1965, the Gold Award for boys and girls was made more similar.

The first Gold Awards were achieved in 1958, and the charity was established in 1959. A single programme for young people aged 14 to 21 was launched in 1969, and extended to those up to 25 years of age in 1980.

In 2013, the Duke presented Awards at St James's Palace at his 500th Gold Award Presentation [3]

United Kingdom[edit]

A Duke of Edinburgh group on their expedition, 2008

The first Duke of Edinburgh's Award ceremony was held in the United Kingdom in 1956.

Participation in DofE programmes and the number of awards achieved has grown every year since 1956. As of 2013, roughly 300,000 young people were taking part in Duke of Edinburgh's Award programmes run in more than 11,000 designated award centres - including schools, youth clubs and businesses - throughout the UK. Over 5 million young people in the UK have taken part in the DofE in the UK since 1956 (8 million worldwide).[4] The Duke of Edinburgh's Award is a member of The National Council for Voluntary Youth Services (NCVYS).[5]

In 2009, the old system of keeping track of progress through paper Record Books was replaced by the introduction of a major new online system - eDofE. Participants use this system to track their progress, while Leaders use it to oversee participants' progress.[6]

Award programmes[edit]

The Duke of Edinburgh's Award programmes take between one to four years to complete, and they must be completed by the participant's twenty-fifth birthday. There are around 300,000 participants annually. The programmes are at three progressive levels which, if successfully completed, lead to a Bronze, Silver or Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.

With assistance from adult Leaders, participants select and set objectives in each of the following areas:

  • Volunteering: undertaking service to individuals or the community.
  • Physical: improving in an area of sport, dance or fitness activities.
  • Skills: developing practical and social skills and personal interests.
  • Expedition: planning, training for and completion of an adventurous journey in the UK or abroad.
  • At Gold level, participants must do an additional fifth Residential section, which involves staying and working away from home doing a shared activity.

To achieve an award, the participant must work on each section for a minimum period of time, and must be monitored and assessed by someone with knowledge of the chosen activities. Each progressive level demands more time and commitment from participants: Bronze 3–6 months; Silver: 6–9 months; Gold: 12–18 months. Participants are required to show regular activity and commitment to the award for the duration of their DofE programme, which is usually at least one hour per week.[7]

Joint Award Initiative[edit]

In Northern Ireland participants completing The Duke of Edinburgh's Award can choose to accept a certificate from the Gaisce or an International Award Certificate instead of a Duke of Edinburgh certificate.[8][9]

Other nations[edit]

Awards modelled on The Duke of Edinburgh's Award are presented by sponsoring organisations affiliated with the Duke of Edinburgh's International Award Association in more than 140 different nations. The prestige, scope and awareness of these awards vary from country to country and often - unlike awards programmes in Ireland and the United Kingdom - there is no connection to the head of state and awards are simply issued by private youth charities. In the United States, for instance, only about 7,000[10] of the estimated 47 million eligible persons age 14 to 24[11] annually participate in the relatively unknown programme.


The awards programme came under scrutiny in 2009 after schoolchild David Iredale died of dehydration on an unsupervised hike in the Blue Mountains as part of his Duke of Edinburgh's Award programme. Asked about the tragedy, the Duke of Edinburgh's son Prince Edward declared the possibility of death among its young participants was what made the programme popular. In his remarks, Prince Edward recalled other deaths during the early history of the award and how it energised interest among young people, who were - according to Edward - interested because, "you could die doing this."[12] Australian commentators declared Edward's comments were "crass" and "insensitive" and Iredale's mother said the award programme suffered from "serious shortcomings."[13]


The first Duke of Edinburgh's Award ceremony in Canada was held in 1964. As of 2011, approximately 500,000 Canadians had received the award over the programmes 57-year history.[14] In 2013 the Royal Bank of Canada announced a $1 million grant to help fund marketing and publicity efforts to increase awareness for the programme.

Hong Kong[edit]


India awards the "International Award for Young People" to youth who complete a self-improvement programme based on the Duke of Edinburgh's award model. The programme was first introduced to India in 1962 and was originally operated by the Indian Public Schools Conference. In 1989 the Award Programme Foundation, a registered charity, was established to oversee management of the award. According to the Award Programme Foundation, implementation of awards are undertaken by 154 local institutions, including governments, NGOs and universities. Despite the long history of the programme in India, only about 19,000 youth annually participate. As in many other nations, awards in India are granted in three levels - gold, silver and bronze - based on the complexity and time commitment of the projects undertaken by the individual award participant.[15]


Gaisce – The President's Award

"Gaisce – The President's Award"(Irish: Gaisce – Gradam an Uachtaráin) was established by a trust deed under the patronage of the President of Ireland on 28 March 1985. It joined the Duke of Edinburgh's International Awards Association in 1988. There are three awards: bronze, silver and gold.[16] The profile of the award was raised substantially during the term of Mary Robinson.


"The Prince Mohato Award" was established in 1976. Its current patron is King Letsie III.[17] As with other nations, the award is presented in three levels and eligible youth are those age 14 to 25. The chairperson of the awards program is Maureen Nyathi.[18]


In Singapore, the award is referred to as "National Youth Achievement Award". It is a Full Member of The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Association and was officially launched in Singapore on 9th May 1992 by H.E. President Late Wee Kim Wee at the Istana.[19][20]

South Africa[edit]

In South Africa, the Award is referred to as The President's Award for Youth Empowerment. The Award was first established in 1983 under the name The Gold Shield Award, but in 1992, in anticipation of Mr Nelson Mandela becoming the first president of a democratic South Africa, the name was changed to The President's Award for Youth Empowerment.

In its 30 year history of youth engagement in South Africa, the Award Programme has reached over 150,000 young people in the country. The President's Award has a full licence to operate the Award in South Africa, from the Duke of Edinburgh's International Award Foundation, which oversees Award Programmes in over 140 countries globally, with 25 of these being in Africa.

There are over 14,300 active participants in South Africa (2014) and the Award Programme is currently being used by over 250 Award Units nationally (community youth groups, residential youth facilities, schools and correctional centres) as a workable framework for youth empowerment. It is being increasingly sought to provide a framework for youth-at-risk, providing them with a positive, affirming alternative to the social challenges which they face within their communities. The Award Programme is not a once off intervention but is a longer term process, taking between 3 to 5 years to complete all three levels of Bronze, Silver, and Gold.


"The Prince Makhosini Award" has, according to award organisers, processed 106 young people through the programme since it was reinstated in 2007.[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Official DofE History
  2. ^ "The Duke of Edinburgh's Award". Royal.gov.uk. Retrieved 5 February 2014. 
  3. ^ Duke of Edinburgh 500th Gold Award Presentation
  4. ^ "DofE statistics". The Duke of Edinburgh's Award. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
  5. ^ Full list of NCVYS members
  6. ^ eDofE
  7. ^ "How long will it take me? – The Duke of Edinburgh's Award". Retrieved 2012-03-223.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  8. ^ "Joint Award Initiative - the DofE". The Duke of Edinburgh's Award. Retrieved 5 January 2014. 
  9. ^ "The President's Award, Ireland - Gaisce Joint Award Initiative". Gaisce the President's Award. Retrieved 5 January 2014. 
  10. ^ "Duke of Edinburgh’s Award - News". Duke of Edinburgh's Award. 2013. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
  11. ^ "Population estimates and projections for 14- to 24-year-olds, by age group and race/ethnicity: Selected years, 2005 through 2025". National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
  12. ^ "Death boosted Duke of Edinburgh Award - Prince Edward". news.com.au. 30 October 2009. Retrieved 10 January 2014. 
  13. ^ "Just like his dad: Prince Edward says death of schoolboy doing Duke of Edinburgh Award 'could boost scheme's popularity'". Daily Mail (London). 2013-10-30. Retrieved 2013-10-17. 
  14. ^ Tidridge, Nathan (2011). Canada's Constitutional Monarchy. Dundurn. 
  15. ^ "The Award in India". The International Award for Young People. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
  16. ^ "Ireland | The Duke of Edinburgh's International Award". The Duke of Edinburgh's International Award Foundation. Retrieved 5 January 2014. 
  17. ^ Mcinca, Tepisco (22 May 2003). "King Letsie III Presents Prince Mohato Awards to 14 Recipients". AllAfrica. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
  18. ^ "http://www.gov.ls/articles/2012/his_majesty_presents_prince_mohato_award.php". Government of Lesotho. December 7, 2012. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
  19. ^ http://www.nyaa.org/
  20. ^ http://scout.sg/national-youth-achievement-award
  21. ^ "Prince Makhosini Award". Manzini Youth Care. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 

External links[edit]