"I think young people can influence each other, and then it's important to have a good message to convey. It is important to find their own commitment, " says Simen from Teigar ungdomsskole at Nøtterøy. He participated at Learning Democracy at Utøya, together with other lower secondary students from all over the country, and conducted activities with fellow students at the school afterwards.
"Learning Democracy at Utøya" is a free training for students in 9th and 10th grade from schools across Norway. In spring, two new trainings are held: 20-22 March and 17-19 April.
The gatherings last for three days. They start with a visit to the 22st of July center in Oslo before continuing at Utøya. Pupils learn about July 22, 2011, while collaborating on and discussing topics such as democratic citizenship and the prevention of hate speech, anti-democratic powers and extremism. During the stay, students make their own action plans that are carried out with students, teachers and/or parents afterwards.
"I have learned new methods that I can use in teaching and I have got a better insight into the events related to July 22," says one of the teachers who participated in the fall of 2017. Teachers get a separate training on teaching controversial issues.
After the terror of July 22, 2011, Utøya has become an important symbol for democracy to be created and defended every day. By strengthening young people's democratic skills and giving them a place as positive role models that can teach and inspire their fellow students, democracy education on Utøya contributes to developing the democratic preparedness of youth.
Registration and more information can be found at www.theewc.org/utoya
Democracy Education at Utøya is a collaboration between the European Wergeland Center, the Rafto Foundation, Utøya and the 22nd of July Center.