History of TPA

The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award was founded in 1956 by HRH Prince PhilipKurt Hahn, a German educationalist, and Lord Hunt, leader of the first successful ascent of Everest. The idea was born in response to their concerns about the development of boys post World War II, due to the gap between leaving school at 15 and entering National Service at 18.

Although initially only available to boys aged between 14 and 18, there was great demand for a similar scheme for girls, and this was launched in September 1958. The Award continued to evolve over subsequent decades until 1980 when the upper age limit was extended to 25, and the Award took on its current four-Section format of: Service, Adventurous Journey, Skills and Physical Recreation.

Award launch in South Africa

Over the years, the programme was replicated in different countries and in 1983 was introduced in South Africa under the banner of the Gold Shield Award, with Dr Ian Player as the first Chairman. In 1994 it was re-launched as The President’s Award for Youth Empowerment, with Mr Nelson Mandela as the Founding Patron-in-Chief.

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