The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award was introduced in the United Kingdom in 1956. The aim was to motivate boys aged between 15 and 18 to become involved in a balanced program of self-development activities as they went from adolescence into adulthood.
The program was designed by a small team led by HRH Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, as well as Dr Kurt Hahn, German educationalist, founder of Outward Bound and the United World Colleges, and Sir John Hunt, the leader of the first team to conquer Mount Everest.
Within the first year of establishment, the Award’s lower age limit was reduced to 14, where it has stayed ever since. A girls’ program was launched in 1958, and the two separate programs were amalgamated in 1969. The upper age limits of the program were slowly increased throughout the 1950s and 1960s, finally increasing to 25 in 1980.
The unique flexibility of The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award made it ideally suited to adaptation and integration into different cultures and societies, and it was soon adopted by schools and youth organisations in other countries.
Today, the basic principles of The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award remain the same but the activities and delivery continue to evolve and adapt to suit the changing demands of modern society and needs of young people. The program has developed and grown into one of the largest and most respected youth programs in the world, making a positive impact on millions of young people in more than 140 countries.