The Presidents Awards for Youth Empowerment
The President’s Award for youth Empowerment is a registered non-profit organisation (004-920NPO) with Public Benefit Organisation status, registered with the South African Revenue Services (PBO#930001329). The programme was founded in South Africa in 1983 under the banner of the Gold Shield Award, with Dr Ian Player as the first Chairman, and in 1994 it was re-launched as the President’s Award for Youth Empowerment, with Mr Nelson Mandela as the Patron in Chief. On the 14th of August 2010 the baton of patron in chief was handed over to President Jacob Zuma, the president of the Republic of South Africa.
In its 30 year history, the Award has reached over 130,000 young South Africans. Affiliated to the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award, which was started in 1956, the President’s Award for Youth Empowerment is a full member of the International Award Association, which oversees the Award programme in over 140 countries globally, with 25 of these being in Africa, with a total of 850,000 active participants internationally.
The basic philosophy informing the Award is the focus on Individual challenge and development. As every individual is different, so too are the challenges that young people will undertake to achieve the Award. With guidance from adult award leaders (e.g. teachers) every young person is encouraged to reflect upon their interests, abilities and ambitions and set themselves challenges in the four different sections of the Award.
Open to young people between the ages of 14 and 24, the Award consists of 4 sections: Community Service, Adventurous Journey, Skills Development and Physical Recreation, which can be achieved at Bronze, Silver and Gold Levels. The Award levels are progressive and as one moves from one level to the next, the requirements increase, which in turn intensifies the challenge, requiring increasing levels of commitment, perseverance and determination from the Award participants.
There are over 15,000 active participants in South Africa annually and the programme is promoted through three broad target areas.
- Learning for Life: with the focus being on schools as well as youth associations, like the Scouts movement, Girl Guides and Sea Cadets and operates in over 200 schools nationally
- Phakama: caters for the specialised needs of community youth groups and child care centres, including children’s homes, shelters and secure care centres and is an early intervention strategy with high risk youth, there are over 70 Award Units active nationally
- READY/RE-integration and Diversion for Youth: In operation in over 70 Department of Correctional Service’s facilities in seven provinces where the programme is utilised as a rehabilitation tool.
In the last 10 years, Award participants who have completed the programme have collectively undertaken 598,320 hours of community service, estimated to be valued at R11,966,406. That is over R1 million a year.
The introduction of the President’s Award at St. Matthew’s High School had a phenomenal outcome on the pupils of the school and the society at large. The initiative taught the participants to be completely selfless. This year St. Matthews High School registered 45 learners for the Bronze and Silver Categories, and on 27 March 2014, the school hosted Bronze & Silver Award Ceremony and Youth Dialogue workshop under the theme “In our 20th year of democracy, how can Award participants be involved in realising the National Development Plan through active citizenship?”