NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 7 – President Mwai Kibaki on Tuesday launched the 13th International Gold Event in Naivasha that drew young delegates from 50 countries around the world.
The International Gold Event (IGE) is a triennial gathering which brings together Gold Award holders from different National Award Authorities recognising and building their leadership and community service skills.
President Kibaki, who is also the Patron of the hosting organisation – the President’s Award Kenya – encouraged delegates to use social networks to practice democracy and pursue lives of integrity, urging them to act as global citizens.
“Youth must be aware that opportunities for their development can only be available in a democratic environment that is characterised by transparency and high standards of probity in the management of public affairs,” he said.
President Kibaki acknowledged that while the youth face many challenges, they also represent Kenya’s largest resource for national development.
He reiterated that while the efforts of governments to empower the youth across the world were not enough, young people had a duty to learn, cultivate noble values and fully utilise available opportunities to improve their lives.
Also present at the launch, Education Minister Prof Sam Ongeri lauded President Kibaki for heavily investing in resources and human capital to benefit Kenya’s youth through the President’s Award scheme and initiatives like free primary education.
The President’s Award-Kenya (PA-K), is a youth development program launched in 1966 under the patronage of the late Mzee Jomo Kenyatta.
Currently there are 50,000 students participating in the award program in 750 Kenyan schools and units.
Executive Director of President’s Award Kenya Edwin Otieno said that since 1966, the President’s Award has flourished with over 150,000 having either directly or indirectly benefited through it.
He noted that young people who went through the program in any country stand out wherever they go and are spread across Kenya in all areas of life, initiating positive change.
Robert Olunga is one example having grown up and lived in the Soweto slums of Nairobi and elevated to studying Education at Kenyatta University.
Mr Olunga, who began the Award program in 2000 while still in high school, said the experience saved him from a life of crime and imprisonment.
Under the theme Each One Reach One, the IGE will encourage the young delegates to be agents of social change by engaging in community service projects in local schools during their visit in the month of September.
The International Award is a self-development program available to youth between the ages of 14 and 25 years old.
Launched in the UK in 1956 as The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, the Program has since spread to more than 130 countries with over seven million young people worldwide taken up the Award challenge.
There are 34 countries in Africa that recognise the International Gold Award program, with the Africa regional office based in Kenya.