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The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award

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The Duke of Edinburgh Award programme at St Paul’s College, Windhoek, Namibia

www.intaward.org

The International Youth Award (the Duke of Edinburgh Award) was introduced in 10 selected Namibian schools in 1989.   The first president of Namibia, Dr Sam Nujoma, was the patron. For a variety of reasons the programme did not succeed in those schools and Namibia was down listed by the international office. However, St Paul’s College, as a private school, adopted the International Youth Award in 1998 and has since successfully continued to offer the programme as an optional extra mural. The school is registered as an Independent Operator. The patron of the programme at the school has been, for the past ten years, the British High Commissioner to Namibia.

The programme enjoys a very high and popular status as an extra mural at the school, with roughly a third (120 pupils) of the High School population, from Grade 8 (age 14) to Grade 12, participating either in the full course (Bronze, Silver and Gold) or parts thereof. It is offered as a four-year programme, which requires commitment and dedication from the participants as well as from the instructors. At St Paul’s College the programme is run by an Executive committee of 5 members and 14 dedicated teachers, some of whom have done the programme themselves as youngsters.  Instructors (teachers) monitor groups of up to 16 pupils. Log books are regularly kept and checked.

The DoE Award at St Paul’s College offers the three levels: the Bronze, Silver and Gold awards. It takes one year each to complete the Bronze and Silver awards and two years to complete the Gold Award Each level comes with its own challenges and unique activities.  For promotion to the next level the participant must complete the various commitments set by the level. They come in three categories: skills, community service and physical activities. Every level has a monthly requirement of hours/entries for the three categories and the requirements become more and more challenging as the participant progresses. All activities/hours are recorded in dedicated “log books” which are handed in to instructors roughly once a month.

Apart from the skill, community service and the physical activity every level offers an adventurous journey, which is special and unique to every group. It allows the groups to travel in the country, bond and have fun together. In the first year (Bronze) the expedition is usually a hike somewhere just outside of the capital, Windhoek.  In the past few years the group in their second year (Silver) has rowed down the Orange River over 3 days. Gold awardees participate in two expeditions, the Residential Project and the five-day Adventurous Journey.

One of the most important aspects of the Award Programme at St Paul’s College however, is the regular commitment to Community Service.  St Paul’s College offers a number of outreach programmes which participants of the “DoE” complement, such as the weekly visit to the “Nordkamp Centre” (a centre for afternoon activities for children affected by the Aids epidemic), an annual “Shoebox” project (donations of a shoebox with contents useful for winter/school for the most vulnerable communities), visiting the Hearing Impaired school, the local SPCA, the “Make the Difference” club and Peer Counselling. A teacher at the College once said, “St Paul’s delights in giving”.

The highlight of all community service is the Residential Project which takes place in the first year of the Gold level (Young Gold). This project is designed to help a disadvantaged community somewhere in Namibia. Often the project takes the group to a school in a very remote area, helping to build a playground, improving the facilities or assisting in their education by teaching and providing teachers and pupils with educational material. These projects make an impact on the young participants and they remain to be compassionate adults.

The DoE programme has many advantages for the pupils at the school. Besides the obvious and basic development of all spheres of the holistic education it offers, it is also accepted as credit at some universities in Southern Africa as proof for a required community service and leadership skill. The pupils visit areas of the country and communities, which they would normally not visit. The groups form very close bonds and the camaraderie is for life! The most importantly the memories made are for life!

 

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