By Robert Egbe
Chairman of the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation, His Royal Highness Prince Edward, has urged Nigerians to explore the benefits of the Award’s Founders 100 programme.
Edward, Earl of Wessex, said the award offers an opportunity to the over 30,000 young Nigerians, 6.7 million Britons and millions of others around the world that have been impacted by the Awards so far.
He spoke in an interview with Channels TV in partnership with The Nation newspaper ahead of the programme launch.
The Award, known locally as the International Award for Young People Nigeria, was launched in 1986 by Edward’s father, HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, who died on April 9, 2021.
It is a global non-formal education framework that challenges young people, aged between 14 and 24 to discover their potential, find their purpose, passion and place. The target is to equip them with life skills regardless of their background, culture and physical ability.
As part of his legacy and to commemorate what would have been his 100th birthday today (June 10), the Award launched the Founders 100 programme.
Prince Edward, who was in Nigeria in February 2020, explained the rationale for Founders 100.
He said: “I think the fact that it was going to be his centenary this year was really the main focus and for the Award that bears his title.
“We all realised it was an important milestone to recognise, remember. So, we have been sort of thinking of this for a while and we knew always we were going to have to be very flexible in our approach.
“Given the extraordinary outpouring of memories and just recognition of the impact of the award in so many different countries, sort of showed that we were going down the right route.
“There are plenty of people that have been involved in the Award and it has had a really positive impact we would like to be able to mark his century and also celebrate the impact of the award around the world.”
As to how Nigerians can get behind the Founders 100 initiative both as fundraisers and participants, the prince said: “In terms of fundraising, what we’re hoping to do is to launch a challenge 100. This is for anybody who wants to have a go, do something with the theme of 100 in it, and hopefully generate some income from that, whether it is through sponsorship or however.
“All of that will go towards the Founders Fund which will be amazing if we get lots of (it) – this could be anybody, this could be people who are doing the award now or people who have done the award, the volunteers.
“It might be people who wish they had rather had done the award: this is your chance to do something and to be able to get involved.
“Hopefully that will help in just everything else we’re trying to do with the Founders 100 to just raise their profile and particularly really trying to encourage more as community leaders, business leaders, political leaders, to understand the positive values of non-formal education, what happens outside the classroom.
“If we can get that recognised, if we can get the understanding of how we actually develop those skills which are so vital in terms of developing young people both as employees but also as entrepreneurs, people that are willing to take risks and do things, then hopefully parents and teachers and youth workers will realise that this is something that is positive.
“It is not a distraction and it can really genuinely help the young people they are working with or that they look after and we all know that if young people are given just that little opportunity they will seize that and you’ll watch their potential grow and that potential is limitless, Infinite and that’s what we really want to do; get more young people to discover that infinite potential they have to do amazing things.”
Recalling the fond memories of his visit to Nigeria and how impressed he was with youths’ commitment to improving themselves, Edward said: “I was indeed… It was one of the last trips I think I made before lockdown. So, it was a wonderful opportunity to meet lots of young people in lots of different places.
“What was really encouraging was not just that the young people were involved and the adults, but there was a real genuine interest from lots of sectors of society, who were really interested in what the Award and non-formal education could really do in Nigeria for so many young people and that it could be positively advantageous for lots of young people.”
He expressed optimism that as the world recovers from the pandemic, “the Awards can play its part in terms of the recovery in Nigeria.”