The Mérite Jeunesse Luxembourg
The Foundation “Mérite Jeunesse Luxembourg” is a member of The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award since 1993.
Initially the Mérite Jeunesse existed only in the European School in Luxembourg. Eight teachers of the European School Kirchberg made first contact with the programme of the Award when they visited a school in Antwerp and decided to establish it in Kirchberg too. One of them, Stéphane Gilbart, joined the meeting in the Ministery of the Family and Youth Affairs on the 29th April 1993. Important people such as H.R.H. Prince Guillaume, Mady Delvaux or Franz-Charles Muller (SNJ) were present. The first meeting of the Mérite Jeunesse Luxembourg took place in the head office of the SNJ at the Place d'Armes on the 8th June 1993. After an official inauguration in the Villa Vauban the programme was launched in Luxembourg.
The number of schools and organisations who are involved in the Mérite Jeunesse Luxembourg increased in 2016 to 30 Units.
History of the Award
The International Award for Young People grew out of the efforts of three men -
HRH Prince Philip, Kurt Hahn, a German educationalist, and Lord Hunt, leader of the first successful ascent of Everest - who were aware that young people’s development was lacking in certain key areas.
After the Second World War there was a growing concern about the development of boys, due to the gap between leaving school at 15 and entering National Service at 18.
Based on the philosophy of Hahn, founder and headmaster of Gordonstoun School in Scotland, the Award was designed around four sections: Rescue & Public Service Training, the Expedition, Pursuits & Projects, and Fitness.
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. At this point, the upper age limit was extended to 24, and the Award took on its current four section format of: Service, Adventurous Journey, Skills and Physical Recreation.
The Award goes global
As soon as the Award was launched there was great interest from outside the UK. It spread initially through the enthusiasm of international schools, but soon youth organisations across the British Commonwealth were running the Award.
By 1971 the Award operated in 31 countries; this had increased to 48 countries by 1989 as it spread beyond the boundaries of the Commonwealth. Such rapid expansion led to the formation of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award International Association in 1988.
Many countries adopted different names for their Award, particularly those outside the Commonwealth. These different names still exist today. In Luxembourg the Award is called Mérite Jeunesse Luxembourg. You can find out more about how the Award is known around the world by visiting the Award Near You. The main thing to remember is that whatever the name, the Award’s the same.
Global expansion over the last 60 years has enabled the Award to reach more and more young people. Today there are over 140 countries and territories delivering the Award. However, the Award is now expanding in other ways, targeting those who have not previously had opportunities to develop themselves. Recent Award projects around the world have focused on involving young offenders, those with disabilities, street kids and aboriginal communities. The impact of the Award on many of these young people is extraordinary: it transforms their lives.
The spread of the Award across the globe is testament to its universal appeal and the vision of its founder. However, even HRH admits that this took him by surprise:
“When the first trial of the Award was launched in 1956, no one had any idea quite what would happen. In the event it was an instant success, and the Award has been growing and expanding worldwide ever since.”