Britain’s unsung education export

With 1.3 million young people participating in more than 130 countries and territories, this great British initiative, is in fact a great British export.

Britain’s unsung education export

With 1.3 million young people participating in more than 130 countries and territories, this great British initiative, is in fact a great British export.

This week, the world’s education experts convene in Dubai for the Global Education & Skills Forum. Joining them is a British export which is paving the way in international education, right now. Yet, despite it being widely known in its home country, very few are aware of its international credentials.

Currently running in more than 130 countries and territories and supporting in excess of 1.3 million young people, The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award – also known as the DofE in the UK – has enabled millions of young people to step outside their comfort zone and challenge themselves through non-formal education.

And a recent survey by the charity of more than 12,000 people from 150+ countries and territories found that this type of education – learning outside the traditional classroom environment – is becoming more and more sought after. In fact, of those surveyed, two in three young people and four in five adults believe that classroom learning alone is no longer enough to prepare them for the world.

In a series of global surveys run by The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation, more than 10,000 young people across two age groups (13 – 251 and 16 – 252) and nearly 2,000 adults3 (aged 25+) were asked their opinion on the challenges and opportunities young people face and the skills necessary for success in today’s world.

The surveys found that seven in 10 young people feel they face more uncertainty  today  than previous generations. Further, six in 10 think that growing up is more complicated than it was for their parents and grandparents.

Those surveyed rank skills such as confidence, resilience and determination – those skills targeted by the Award’s activity - as important for ensuring young people are ready for the world. Other skills such as leadership and teamwork are also seen as necessary for success, by both adults and young people alike.

John May, Secretary General of The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation said: “Ask many about the Award in the UK and they have either been involved themselves, or know someone who has. Yet few realise that this British initiative is also a strong British export, which has been running internationally for more than 60 years. From Bangladesh to the Bahamas; Czech Republic to Côte d'Ivoire; the Award is one of only a handful of examples of education frameworks which are delivered identically around the world. The Award started more than 60 years ago as a ‘do it yourself growing up kit’ for British teenagers – almost three quarters of a century on, it’s just as relevant - if not more - both nationally and internationally, than when it began.”

The Award’s strength lies in the fact that each and every participant creates their own unique programme, to fit their motivations and circumstances, and that programme can also adapt to meet cultural, religious or environmental factors as well. Participants pursue their self-identified areas of interest, developing their own unique Award programme of skill-building, physical activity, voluntary community service and challenge through outdoor adventure.


  • Survey of 7,681 13-25 year olds across year olds from countries & territories including Bangladesh, Kenya, Ghana & In conjunction with U-Report. September 2018.
  • Survey of 3,487 16 – 25 year olds across 80+ countries & territories including Turkey, Barbados, New Zealand and the July – September 2018.
3 Survey of 1,825 adults (25+) from countries and territories including Bulgaria, Australia, Mauritius and South Africa. July – September 2018.

Vikas Pota, Chairman of the Varkey Foundation, said: “The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award has for decades been the benchmark for the best ways to push young people beyond their limitations, helping them grow and learn valuable life lessons.

“The skills developed beyond the comfort zone of the classroom that the scheme brings out will help ensure our young people are equipped to embrace the challenges of tomorrow, whether they are tackling climate change and global poverty or navigating a workforce changed beyond recognition by automation.

“These are life skills that many of the speakers at this year’s Global Education & Skills Forum have in abundance as we hear from the inspiring individuals who, in so many different areas, are changing our world. Those participating in The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award today might soon be among them.”

Simon Penney, Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner to the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan added: “With nearly 15,000 current participants across the Middle East, it’s clear that the Duke of Edinburgh International Award truly makes a difference in preparing young people for their future.   It’s a prime example of how a different component of British education can have a positive influence on people’s lives.”

John May continues: “During the past few years, the Award has seen rising international interest in its work and outcomes. We are regularly approached by leaders in education, government and youth organisations who are interested in exploring the benefits of non-formal education and the role it can play in developing skills such as resilience, confidence, communication and problem solving – skills which many deem essential for young people, as the world changes at a rate and in ways never seen before.”


For more details on the Award and to read the full #WORLDREADY Discussion Paper, with additional insights, please visit


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For further information, please contact:

Marianna Davis, Senior Brand and Communications Manager, The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation: / +44 (0) 20 7222 4242/ +44 (0) 7720 392 528


A range of content is available, including:

Interview opportunities:

  • John May, Secretary General of The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award is available for For John’s bio, please click here.
  • Award participants and Leaders from around the world can be sourced for interview, on

Photography and video content:

Photo and video content of the Award in action is also available on request.

Notes for Editors
  • The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award is a global, non-formal education framework which challenges young people to develop new skills, get physically active, learn about teamwork and leadership through adventurous journey and volunteer within their
  • It is known by a range of different names around the world – including, to name a few, the DofE in the UK, the President’s Award in South Africa, The International Award for Young People in India and Mednarodno priznanje za mlade (MEPI) in  The Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex is Chairman of The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation.
  • There are currently 3 million young people completing their own unique programme, via hundreds of thousands of youth-focused partners and operators, including schools, youth organisations, examination boards and youth offender institutions.
  • From running as an established programme in a blind boys’ academy in India, to the introduction into youth organisations in Israel and projects working with teenage mothers in New Zealand; the Award’s framework can support and thrive in a multitude of different.
  • Since its launch over 60 years ago, millions of young people have participated and received Awards, with millions more benefitting from its impact in communities around the world. 
  • Both national and international case studies, imagery and additional video content are available.
  • For more information, please visit or