The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award grew out of the efforts of three men: The Duke of Edinburgh; Kurt Hahn, a German educationalist and founder of Outward Bound, and Lord Hunt, leader of the first successful ascent of Mount Everest. The Award was first launched in The United Kingdom in 1956 for boys aged 15-18 to motivate them to become involved in a balanced program of voluntary self-development activities.
Based on the philosophy of Kurt Hahn, founder and headmaster of Gordonstoun School in Scotland (where HRH The Prince Philip attended), the Award was designed around four sections: Rescue and Public Service Training, the Expedition, Pursuits and 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 where 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.
Source: Award Beat – May 2017