Om Dembra

Dembra is a programme for professional development amongst teachers, school leaders and other school staff. Based on the school’s own circumstances, Dembra helps strengthen the school’s work on participation and critical thinking.

Dembra is suitable for schools whose leaders and teachers
• wish to take a more systematic approach to critical thinking, democratic development and inclusion, and/or
• find that their school has particular challenges or may come to experience particular challenges relating to group-based hostility

Dembra is founded on the premise that a democratic culture based on participation and critical thinking provides the best counterweight to attitudes that threaten democracy – such as group-based hostility and anti-democratic ideologies. Read more about the framework of Dembra here:

 The theory behind Dembra.

Participation in Dembra offers:

  • Professional development for all school staff
  • Help to identify the school’s needs and support and guidance on the school’s own initiatives
  • Professional input by way of lectures and debates
  • An opportunity to reflect and share experiences with colleagues and other schools
  • Inspiration, facts and methodologies to combat intolerance and extremism

Relevant questions:

  • How can schools work to prevent antisemitism and racism?
  • How do we counter prejudice and extreme views in the classroom?
  • How do we include students who express intolerant attitudes?
  • How do we teach controversial topics?
  • How do we build bridges between segregated or polarised groups of students?
  • How do we include groups who exclude themselves?
  • How do we promote democratic participation in society?
  • How do we practice critical thinking?

How to prevent?

Dembra has been designed on the back of research-based answers to two questions: What helps prevent anti-Semitism, racism and anti-democratic ideas? How can teachers and schools do more to create an inclusive school environment? The answers are summed up in Dembra’s five principles:

1) Participation and inclusion
2) Knowledge and critical thinking
3) Diversity competence
4) Ownership and institutionalisation
5) The school as a whole


Dembra was developed in Norway at the behest of the Norwegian authorities and has been trialled in 52 schools across the country. The Nordic initiative is funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers’ programme for Democracy, Inclusion and Safety (DIS).

Who is behind Dembra?

Dembra was developed by the Norwegian Center for Holocaust and Minority Studies, the European Wergeland Centre and the Department of Teacher Education and School Research at the University of Oslo. The Center for Studies of the Holocaust and Religious Minorities, the Rafto Foundation, the Falstad Centre and the Arkivet Foundation are tasked with implementing Dembra in different parts of Norway.

HL logo liten
the norwegian center for holocaust and minority studies

The centre conducts research-based work on anti-Semitism and racism with children, students and teachers. Creating teaching materials and training teachers are at the heart of its work. Every year the centre welcomes more than 5,000 children for various educational programmes. The centre has extensive experience of managing and supporting projects of a similar size.



The Rafto Foundation

The Rafto Foundation is a non-profit, non-political organisation working to promote human rights. Its core activities include the annual Rafto Prize, ongoing projects involving the prizewinners, and the teaching of democracy and human rights. The Rafto Prize is given to persons and organisations who stand on the front line in the fight for human rights and democracy. The foundation was established in 1986 to commemorate the human rights work of Professor Thorolf Rafto.



The Falstad Centre

The Falstad Centre is a centre for education and documentation. It is based in the main building of the former SS camp Falstad from World War II. The Falstad Centre develops and disseminates information about prisoners of war and human rights through documentation, research and teaching.

The Arkivet Foundation

The Arkivet Foundation is a national research and education centre which develops, disseminates and uses information to promote human dignity based on the events of World War II. The foundation is located in the former national archives building in Kristiansand, which served as headquarters for the Gestapo in Southern Norway during the war.



The European Wergeland Centre (EWC)

The EWC offers both specialist expertise and general organisational support for a wide range of activities. Every year the EWC plans and conducts professional development projects with a holistic approach to democratic school development.



Department of Teacher Education and School Research, University of Oslo
Key personnel at the Department of Teacher Education and School Research are involved in teaching subject didactics and possess significant expertise on curriculum design, analysis and implementation. They have also been central to the planning, implementation, analysis and reporting of ICCS 2009 (International Civic and Citizenship Education Study).


Contributors to this website

Uzair Ahmed
Kristine Bjørndal
Jan Alexander Brustad
Elise Grimsrud Christensen
Cora Alexa Døving
Dag Fjeldstad
Benjamin Geissert
Lars Gudmundson
Claudia Lenz
Lars Lien
Kirsten Hagen Meadow
Rolf Mikkelsen
Vibeke Moe
Peder Nustad
Ingvill Thorson Plesner
Ida Cathrine Ruud
Harald Syse

Photo credits

Werner Anderson