4. April 2017

Promoting democratic debate

Norway’s Tore Eikelands Legat seeks to boost social engagement by youngsters in emerging economies. Its efforts are being extended from Ghana to South Africa with support from the Kavli Trust.

Text: Tore Eikelands Legat
Photo: Kari Bernadini

Through discussion, debate and engagement in current affairs, Tore’s Foundation – as it is known in English – wants to enhance knowledge and self-confidence among children and young people.
That will encourage them in turn to continue with their education and to become active and committed members of their local communities.


In the longer term, the foundation believes that this work will contribute to social, political and economic progress in line with Eikeland’s ideals. It was established as a memorial to Eikeland, who ranked as one of Norway’s ablest young politicians when he was killed in the terrorist attack on the island of Utøya north of Oslo in 2011. In his memory, the foundation wants to join forces with children and young people in emerging economies to create local communities committed to democracy.


After establishing a number of debating societies in Ghana, the foundation now wants to give young South Africans the same opportunities. The Lavender Hill township outside Cape Town suffers from crime, gangs and problems with drink and drugs. Offering its youngsters other activities allows them to choose a better life. In the foundation’s view, educating the young people in democratic values and concepts will help to ensure their equitable and thoughtful political involvement.


Experience from the debating societies established in Ghana has opened new perspectives for the youngsters who are taking part. “I like to debate,” says 17-year-old Gloria. “I’ve gained a lot of self-confidence and faith in my own ideas. I can now listen to other people’s views as well, even if I disagree.”


Eikeland was a passionate speaker and activist, who became involved in issues related to development and justice both in Norway and internationally. From the age of 16, he was heavily involved with Norway’s Workers’ Youth League (AUF), and was elected chair of its Hordaland county branch in 2009.
Eikeland also helped to establish the Young Federalists of Norway as the national section of the Young European Federalists (JEF). In his memorial speech following the Utøya outrage, then prime minister Jens Stoltenberg highlighted Eikeland as a promising young politician.

Read more about Tore’s Foundation here.