The Duke of Edinburgh Award in Africa

The Duke of Edinburgh Award in Africa

The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation works tirelessly in Africa to bring the award programme to young people across the continent.  As a Nigerian philanthropist and a Fellow of the Duke of Edinburgh’s World Fellowship, this is an endeavour close to the heart of entrepreneur Tunde Folawiyo.

The Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme was founded in 1956, with the aim of helping young people, no matter what their background, to reach their full potential.  The Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme’s mission is to develop the mind, body and soul of young people, through teamwork and practical activities.  The scheme aims to build confidence and self-esteem in youths all over the world.

On the African continent, the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme has changed the lives of millions of young people.  Kenyan-born Julius Irungu Krush grew up in the slums of Mathare, as the youngest son of a single mother who had three other children to care for.  Their makeshift shelter had no electricity, sanitation or running water.  Julius’s family were under constant threat; opportunist crime is rife in the slum areas of Mathare, not to mention their vulnerability to the elements and natural disasters.  School fees slid beyond Julius’s mother’s grasp as she struggled to feed her children, let alone herself.

The Mathare slums are located three miles to the east of Nairobi’s central business district.  The area is approximately two miles long by one mile wide, and is estimated to be inhabited by over 700,000 people.  Survival is a daily battle for the residents of Mathare, with lawlessness, crime and disease claiming lives by the day, if not the hour.

Dwellings consist of makeshift 6×8 structures, in a maze of alleyways and open, raw sewers.  It is a miracle to think that humankind can survive in such conditions – let alone flourish – but the manner in which some residents conduct themselves in such adverse conditions is a testament to the tenacity of the human spirit.

For slum-dwellers like Julius, there is little access to basic amenities like healthcare, clean water and food.  A fire in the slums can claim the lives of hundreds or thousands; there are no emergency services.  The makeshift huts are constructed from mud or metal.  There is no government security.  Residents of the Mathare slums are at the mercy of lawless tribal gangs each and every day.

Even basic sanitation is considered a luxury that few slum-dwellers can afford.  Payment is demanded upfront before an inhabitant can use one of the few filthy public bathrooms.  There is no refuse collection system.  It is understandable that disease is rife in such circumstances.

Julius dropped out of school twice.  Recounting the despondency of the slums, he acknowledges that he almost gave up hope for a better future and succumbed to the poverty trap.  As an adolescent surrounded by negative peer pressure, with no confidence, dreams or ambition, Julius tried to kill himself.

Tunde FolawiyoJulius’s life was turned around when he discovered the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award scheme.  He enrolled, and within just six months achieved his Bronze Award, quickly going on to gain his Silver and Gold.  Along the way, Julius has reaped so many rewards, including inspiration and a new-found sense of self.  The experience has changed Julius’s life forever.  While studying under the Service section, he learnt the importance of working with others towards improving his community, to such an extent that after achieving his Gold Award, Julius went on to found his own mentorship programme.  It is called ‘Raising Hope’, and its mission is to inspire the children of the Mathare slums.

Stories like this will strike a chord with Duke of Edinburgh Fellows such as Tunde Folawiyo.  It is what the Duke of Edinburgh’s Africa mission is all about.  Tunde Folawiyo is the Director of the African Leadership Academy, an institution aimed at finding young African students who show promise and, through its scholarship programmes, honing the skills of Africa’s potential political leaders of tomorrow.

The Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme was founded by the Duke of Edinburgh, husband of Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain, in 1956.  Over the years, the scheme has been rolled out across schools all over Great Britain, with programmes expanding across 140 countries worldwide.  The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation promotes the award scheme abroad and acts as a co-ordinating body for international award sponsors.

Since the first Duke of Edinburgh Award ceremony in 1956, over a million young people have taken part in the scheme in Great Britain, with over eight million youths participating worldwide.  Today, there are around 300,000 participants each year.  With the assistance of their leaders, participants choose objectives from each of the following criteria:

  • Volunteering

Undertaking service to the community or to individuals directly

  • Physical

Improving in an area of dance, sport or fitness activity

  • Skills

Developing social and practical skills and personal interests

  • Expedition

Planning, training and completion of an adventurous journey

  • Residential

Involves staying away from home and working towards a shared activity

The Bronze Award takes 3-6 months on average to achieve; Silver takes 6-9 months; Gold takes 12-18 months.  In this way, each level demands more time from participants, illustrating a deeper level of commitment.

The Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme is aimed at young people across the world, whatever their background.  Its mission is to help them achieve their true potential through inspiration, education and the realisation of what can be accomplished by working with others as a team.

The Duke of Edinburgh Award’s African Impact

Founded in 1956, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award has had a measurable positive impact on Africa, striving to help young people engage with their communities and become conscientious adults. Throughout the African continent in varied countries such as Ghana in Western Africa, Cameroon, the Seychelles and South Africa, the charity has helped many communities through the hard work of volunteers both from inside and Tunde Folawiyoout-with each country. This is no more apparent than through the critical conservation work carried out by those in Africa seeking the award.

As of 2014, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award has a massive 80 volunteer projects running in various African countries. Many of these have been designed to help protect Africa’s important wildlife and fauna, some of which is dangerously close to extinction. Volunteers travel from all around the world and, through their efforts, important work is carried out which it is hoped will positively affect the African environment, and halt the needless hunting of endangered animals and the exploitation of other finite environmental resources.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award encourages its volunteers to work with other charities, and it is through working with such African initiatives as Village by Village and African Impact that the organisation’s volunteers truly excel, having the greatest possible positive impact on the environment and peoples on the African continent. The charity African Impact itself offers a range of environmental programmes designed specifically with this in mind. Other organisations, such as Tunde Folawiyo’s African Leadership Academy strive to engage with the youth of Africa and beyond in parallel with the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. This helps to create a more conscientious and bold generation of contributory people, which is one of many pan-African topics discussed in-depth on Tunde Folawiyo’s Tumblr page. The presence of such organisations and individuals further increases the impact of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, and its legacy through inspiring people into similar positive acts and activities.

Duke of Edinburgh’s Award volunteers can take part in a range of ecological projects in Africa via African Impact, including:

  1. Marine Conservation: When discussing African conservation efforts, this often evokes in people an image of both tropical and desert landscapes; however, much of the work carried out by Duke of Edinburgh’s Award volunteers involves marine conservation, helping to protect Africa’s dolphin population and coral reefs.
  1. Lion Rehabilitation: Carried out mainly in Zambia, this project involves volunteers working in conservation areas to protect lion populations, and to help nurse and release injured and orphaned lions back into the wild.
  1. Orphan Care: Another project in Zambia includes volunteers looking after one of the biggest chimpanzee sanctuaries in the world. Helping these close relatives of the human species when orphaned, injured, or unable to fend for themselves.

Through initiatives such as African Impact, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award continues to motivate young people to engage within Africa to help protect its unique and diverse environmental heritage.

The 2015 Morocco Trek With the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award

As part of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (one of the world’s leading youth initiatives where young people are gifted awards for achieving positive goals), volunteers are able to travel to a number of countries around the world and take part in various challenging activities. Some of these activities are designed to test the individual, while others are more focused on helping communities, but regardless of the scope of each initiative, they are all aimed at helping young people develop into caring, positive and conscientious adults.

In Africa, these awards have been supported by many forward thinking individuals including Nigeria’s Tunde Folawiyo, a member of the Duke of Edinburgh’s World Fellowship project – another worthwhile youth initiative which can be read about in greater detail, alongside other philanthropic pursuits, on Tunde Folawiyo’s Slideshare page. There are numerous key projects like these which work tirelessly to benefit the world’s young people, and through their association with the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, many of them can help the youth of today explore their limits, developing skills Tunde Folawiyoand talents which will serve them well into adulthood. One such project is the 2015 Morocco Duke of Edinburgh Trek.

The Morocco Trek is just one of a number of initiatives offered by the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award’s African affiliates. What makes this project special, however, is that it is open to individuals. Most other initiatives are only available to school classes. While school projects are just as important, it is a positive move from the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award organizers to include one open to individuals, especially considering that the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is open to those up to the age of 24.

For anyone considering entering into the Morocco trek programme as part of the 2015 project for DofE, it is critical that they are aware what the itinerary will be composed of, just to make sure they are fully prepared. Once signed up, the project will consist of:

  1. First Day: A flight to Marrakesh where volunteers will be able to soak up the atmosphere and acclimatise to their new surroundings.
  2. Days 2 to 3: Initially volunteers will be escorted around the city before visiting the Atlas Mountains and the incredibly remote settlements in that region.
  3. Days 4 to 6: Volunteers will then be encouraged to take part in an environmental initiative within a village community. This is where they will gain insight and essential experience of interacting with locals and their customs, while taking part in an initiative which will benefit both the local wildlife and its human inhabitants.
  4. Days 7 to 10: At this stage volunteers will begin the trek through the Toubkai wilderness, including camping and exploring the incredible surroundings.
  5. Day 11 – 12: The trek will then terminate in Essaouira and the volunteers will be able to explore the town and enjoy the local beach.
  6. Day 13: Volunteers will travel to Marrakesh and enjoy the great city for one more night before returning home.

Projects such as the 2015 Morocco DofE Trek initiative continue to help further develop the conscientious abilities of the youth of the world, while actively benefiting communities around Africa.

The extraordinary accomplishments of DofE participants

Being familiar with the DofE, Tunde Folawiyo is probably aware that it has been in operation for several decades now; without a doubt, its enduring popularity is due in no small part to the flexibility which it offers, in terms of activity selection. Participants are given the opportunity to follow their passions, and delve deeper into the subjects that truly interest them.

Tunde FolawiyoFor Christian Owen, a young deaf student, the lack of understanding regarding BSL (British Sign Language) was his biggest source of frustration. He decided to use his involvement in the DofE to do something about this; he wanted to make this language more accessible to the general public, and so chose to produce the world’s first ever manual for BSL.

Prior to this, the only options for those who wanted to learn BSL were to take formal lessons, or to use the standard BSL dictionary; whilst the latter is a very valuable resource, it is widely acknowledged as being a very complicated book for beginners to use. Christian hoped to provide a less daunting, self-help style manual, which would encourage people to learn the basics of BSL, and thus help to break down the barriers of communication between the non-hearing and hearing communities. His manual has been very well-received, so much so that Christian has continued on in his efforts to improve access to this language, by organising BSL lessons during after-school hours.

Kate McDevitt is another participant whose involvement in the DofE allowed her to discover where her interests lay. Despite suffering from severe health issues – she was born with hydrocephalus, a hole in her heart and three kidneys – Kate persevered with her Award activities.

Due to her own health problems, she was particularly passionate about the volunteering section. She chose to raise money for HAFAD and Children in Need – two charitable organisations which most people, including Tunde Folawiyo, will have heard of. She also ran campaigns relating to disability rights. A progression and training employee at HAFAD, named Esme Young, praised Kate for her determination and hard work. HAFAD (now known as Action on Disability), aims to create a fairer society, in which people with disabilities are afforded the same opportunities and rights as others. Based in West and Central London, this organisation not only campaigns for disabled people’s rights, but also provides such people with access to activities which enable them to live independently..

In addition to raising money for charities, Kate also undertook many other activities, including serving as an assistant in a nursery, hiking, swimming and sailing. Discussing her experience, Kate said that the programme had given her confidence, and shown her that she can achieve anything that she puts her mind to.

Folawiyo has been a supporter of the DofE for quite some time. More information about the Goodwill Ambassador Tunde Folawiyo is available online.

The DofE – changing the lives of participants and their communities

Recently, over 400 Scottish teens gathered together in Edinburgh, in order to collect their Gold awards. Anyone who is familiar with the DofE, like Tunde Folawiyo, will understand the significance of its Gold award ceremonies; the certificates handed out to participants represent years of dedication and hard work.

 Tunde FolawiyoThe ceremony took place at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, and was attended not only by the award recipients and their families, but also by a number of celebrities from the sport, entertainment, music and art industries. Some of the top names included David Murdoch, the Olympic curler, and Kevin Guthrie, the actor who starred in the production ‘Sunshine on Leith’.

A significant number of the recipients hailed from Inverness. These young people completed the volunteering section of the award by undertaking peer mentoring, working in charity shops, and by serving as Scout and Guide leaders. For the skills and physical recreation activities, the group chose archery, badminton and American football, and several of them learned how to play musical instruments.

Whilst each section of the award benefits the participants in one way or another, it is the volunteer work which is often said to be the most rewarding aspect of the programme. Those with a passion for youth development, such as Tunde Folawiyo, are no doubt aware that the simple act of helping others can have a profound effect on a young person’s character. But of course, in addition to helping individual participants to become better people, this section also has an incredibly positive impact on their communities.

Surveys carried out by the DofE show that the type of volunteering which participants choose to do varies widely, and includes everything from supporting charities, setting up eco-friendly groups and campaigning, to working as mentors, making clothes for premature infants, and helping out at local after-school clubs.

The commitment and compassion demonstrated by DofE volunteers has not gone unnoticed, and many are eager to give back to this charity, which has helped so many people over the years. For instance, three weeks ago, a group of 300 employees from Baker Tilly, an accountancy firm, set off for a cycling adventure, which saw them cover more than 660 miles over the course of ten days. The bike ride was set up as a fundraising event, in order to raise £10,000 for the DofE.

Tunde Folawiyo | The Duke of Edinburgh Award: How to Apply

As one the UK’s foremost charities, The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award continues to encourage millions of young people towards optimal personal growth and responsibility. Armed with the continued support of advocates such as Tunde Folawiyo and millions of others throughout the UK and beyond, the DofE strives to forge an impact on our youth’s quest for greatness, self-reliance and the strength to overcome adversity.

Tunde FolawiyoThe DofE programme consists of four mandatory sections required for completion. Physical fitness, skill, volunteering and adventurous journey are all found within the teachings of the DofE. With three levels of Award – bronze, silver and gold – participants are urged to reach their fullest potential. Through a non-competitive process, participants may focus on their achievements without concerns of rivalry.

In order to apply to the DofE, participants must first register with a licensed operator. Participants of the programme must be aged between 14 and 25 in order to be considered. With the guidance of DofE mentors, students must determine which level they wish to complete. Throughout the course of the programme, DofE coordinators will serve as a most helpful source of support, therefore a strong bond with participants is of great importance.

Once a DofE applicant has received his/her record book and chosen their assessors, the activities may begin. Another highly important aspect of the DofE programme is for participants to keep in contact with their assessors and coordinators to ensure guidance throughout the entire process. Assessments are carried out on completion of each stage.

The fitness (physical recreation) section of the DofE programme is centred on a quest to promote positive body image and the importance of both emotional and physical health. Whether through participation in an exciting team sport or individual exercise, spreading awareness of the benefits of fitness is among the DofE’s top goals.

The skills section of the DofE programme sees participants showcase their unique talents. As part of this, they are encouraged to broaden their capabilities by embracing new, interesting activities. Volunteering is another fundamental principle promoted by the DofE. Participants are urged to partake in charity work and environmental work in order to wholly grasp the significance of caring for our planet and fellow man.

While taking part in the programme’s adventurous journey section, participants are encouraged to document their travels via personal photos, video recordings and sound tracks. Through these ongoing initiatives and the continued encouragement of programme supporters such as Tunde Folawiyo and millions of others, the DofE will continue to motivate exceptional youths for years to come.

Tunde Folawiyo | The Duke of Edinburgh and the Flag a Munro Challenge

In its quest to foster the personal development of promising youth across the globe, the Duke of Edinburgh Award continues to implement new activities to aid in their mission of encouraging DofE participants toward a brighter future for themselves and their surrounding communities. In keeping true to this tradition, the DofE is a supporter of the Commonwealth Games. “Flag a Munro” seeks to connect these young people with their local heritages by encouraging physical activities and an appreciation of Scotland’s magnificent landscape. Proponents of the DofE, such as Tunde Folawiyo, may find inspiration in the Commonwealth Games, the “Flag a Munro” challenge and the thrilling adventures to which they expose the exceptional participants of the Duke of Edinburgh Award.

Set to take place between April and June 2014, “Flag a Munro”, an initiative of the Commonwealth Games, invites participants to display flags and photos from their treks up some of the Scottish landscape’s most majestic mountains.

Tunde FolawiyoA Munro is defined as a mountain in Scotland boasting a height of over 3,000 ft. These were named for Sir Hugh Munro, who compiled the first list of these hills – Munros Tables – during 1891. Today, the most widely-recognised of the Munros is Ben Nevis, the British Isles’ highest mountain. Climbing Scotland’s Munros is a thrilling experience not to be missed.

There are a variety of ways to become involved with “Flag a Munro” at the Commonwealth Games. DofE Leaders will be responsible for registering participants. Groups of at least 4 are welcome. Upon registration, participants, along with the assistance of their group leader, will choose a Munro or group of Munros to climb. Groups will then be sent a flag which will be displayed upon completion of a climb. Photos from climbs will be put forth toward a college to be displayed during a special exhibition in Glasgow during the summer season. Climbs such as this allow DofE participants to exercise team work, determination, physical skill and problem solving. The culmination of these efforts provides participants with invaluable opportunities for self-discovery.

Throughout its history as one of the world’s foremost programmes for youth, the Duke of Edinburgh Award has partnered with groups across the world to ensure great opportunities for DofE participants. Tunde Folawiyo and other supporters of the organisation may continue to be inspired by these bright, young students and the adventures on which they embark as part of their road to self-discovery. For more information on how to become involved with the “Flag a Mundo” challenge, visit

Can the DofE programme help teens get into university? | Tunde Folawiyo

Quite often, teenagers join the DofE programme with the simple intention of developing a few new skills, and perhaps going on a fun expedition with their friends. But the fact of the matter is that the programme has a far more significant impact on participants’ lives than they initially realise. As they continue on their journey, completing one activity after the next, they usually become more aware of just how beneficial their involvement can be, particularly when they begin to go for university interviews, and apply for places on academic courses.

A few years ago, the DofE commissioned Northampton University to carry out research into the impact of this programme on young people. The results of this research indicated that participation in the DofE has a tremendously positive effect on teens. Over 74% of the respondents said that their self-esteem had improved during their Tunde Folawiyotime with the DofE, whilst 82% said that the volunteering activities they had undertaken had inspired them to do other volunteer work in the future.

Being familiar with this programme, Tunde Folawiyo is probably aware that the self-esteem which participants develop by planning activities, collaborating with others, and accomplishing their goals, is of enormous help when the time comes to apply to universities. The interview process for the UK’s top educational institutes can be very challenging, especially for teens who are perhaps shy or insecure. However, for DofE participants, who are confident and believe in their own self-worth, the experience will probably be far less intimidating.

One DofE member, who was completing her gold level activities at the time of answering the survey, said that as part of her leadership work, she had been asked to do a 20-minute presentation. She explained that, prior to joining the DofE, the thought of speaking to a large group of people for this length of time would have terrified her, but that, due to the confidence she had gained through her participation in the programme, she was able to deliver the presentation in a professional manner, without allowing her nerves to interfere with her performance.

The volunteer work which young people must do as part of the DofE can also help them get into their chosen academic institute, as this type of an extracurricular activity is something which is looked upon favourably by universities. Nowadays, most people, including Tunde Folawiyo, realise that these institutes want more than just good grades; they want to see that a student is well-rounded, and capable of doing more than merely learning off lists of facts and figures. A history of volunteer work indicates that the applicant has a sense of social responsibility, can take the initiative, and is able motivate themselves.

The Adventurous Journeys of the Duke of Edinburgh Award | Tunde Folawiyo

With a long-lasting impact on the fostering of today’s youth, the prestigious Duke of Edinburgh Award has long inspired today’s brightest students to strive toward greatness in many aspects of life. These goals could not appear more evident than in the vast number of participants who have successfully completed the programme since its establishment. Through the continual valued support of the many proponents of the charity, including Tunde Folawiyo, the Duke of Edinburgh Award continues its mission in encouraging participants to strive for a better tomorrow for them and the communities around them.

Tunde Folawiyo In its efforts to promote the growth of today’s youth, the Duke of Edinburgh Award encourages the utmost integrity among its students, proven in a variety of skills including personal discovery, self-reliance, perseverance and service to their communities. Through initiatives, the Duke of Edinburgh Award has made great strides in its quest to improve the lives for thousands of young people, instilling hope, confidence and goodwill throughout the United Kingdom and beyond.

Within the Duke of Edinburgh Award programme lays several areas requiring completion. To complete the adventurous journey portion of the programme, participants must plan, train for and complete a self-reliant expedition, challenging their skills in a variety of significant areas. Each participant must endure training, a practice expedition, a qualifying expedition and a final presentation in order to complete the programme successfully. All of these must be accomplished by the participant’s own physical efforts with minimal assistance, truly testing the collective skills of each participant.

There are several steps to be taken to ensure success in the adventurous journey portion of the programme. Preparation for the adventure involves distinguishing team members, the mission’s aim, travel arrangements and leadership of the mission. During the practice expedition portion of training, participants must demonstrate an ability to travel safely in order to gain permission to proceed with the mission. The qualifying expedition and final assessment will follow, ultimately deciding whether a participant has successfully completed each portion of the programme, rendering them deserving of the award. The prestigious nature of the Duke of Edinburgh Award honours those that have gone above and beyond to demonstrate their passion and appreciation for life, while the leadership skills incurred throughout the journey serve as an immeasurable value.

Through the constant backing of the programme’s supporters such as Tunde Folawiyo and millions of others throughout the world, the Duke of Edinburgh Award will continue to motivate young students for years to come.

The impact of the DofE programme on participants’ career prospects | Tunde Folawiyo

Many members of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award programme join during their early teens, simply because they wish to get involved in some fun activities outside of school, and make new friends. But as they complete one challenging task after another, they usually begin to realise just how beneficial their participation in the DofE can be, both personally and professionally; the vast majority find that they become far more confident, responsible and organised because of their involvement in this programme. These qualities are essential in any profession, and as such, it can safely be said that completing each level of the DofE will vastly improve a young person’s future career prospects.

Last summer, the DofE committee created a survey in which it asked participants to discuss their thoughts about the programme. The results should come as no surprise to anyone who is familiar with the DofE, like Tunde Folawiyo; they showed that 80% of those aged between 16 and 18 believed that having been involved in the DofE would make it easier for them to secure a job in their chosen industry after they leave school, with many stating that the skills and qualities they had acquired would help them through the interview process. Those who had received their Gold Award said that they felt they had developed the most important employability attributes, including self-management, problem-solving, team work and communication.

Local authorities and youth development organisations across the UK are becoming far more aware of how beneficial it is for youths to Tunde Folawiyocomplete this programme, and are now encouraging teens to join the DofE, as a means of reducing national unemployment figures in the future. Just recently, Bishop Auckland College collaborated with a regeneration project called Durham-Gate, to host a series of events designed to encourage local teenagers to sign up for the DofE. One of the attendees, Neil McMillan, explained that getting young people to join this programme would give them a significant advantage in the job market later in their lives, as many employers now actively seek out candidates who have received their Bronze, Silver and Gold DofE awards.

A similar event was arranged by a company called Amey last year; they hosted a workshop which aimed to tackle unemployment amongst young people. Amey is one of just seven businesses in the UK which allows its under-25 employees to join the DofE as part of their training.  The Earl of Wessex attended the workshop; he noted that the current economy makes it very difficult for those in their late teens and early twenties to obtain employment, and that it would therefore be wise for young people to join a programme like the DofE, which will help them to grow into well-rounded, confident and capable adults. This is an opinion which Tunde Folawiyo, and other supporters of the DofE might agree with.