A unique and fun way to learn about democracy

The Democracy Cake

The educational board game called “The Democracy Cake”, has over the last decade been used by students, teachers and activists across the world. What are the reasons it has become a success?

The Eritrean version
The Eritrean version

One of the Rafto Foundation’s core activities is to give human rights and democracy education to students and teachers in Norway. Over the years Rafto has developed its own educational tools such as the “Take-Action Cards”, “Does Norway Violate Human Rights Card deck”, and the “Democracy Cake”.

The good and the bad ingredients

To better understand the latter; Picture yourself building a democracy from scratch. What are the essential ingredients? If you must choose between “free press” or “free elections”, what would your choice be?

“The Democracy Cake started out as a metaphor used when staff were teaching young students about democracy. The metaphor was then developed into a board game. We are so happy to see that a tool intended for Norwegian school children works just as well with a group of human rights activists in the Middle East. But that was not something we had foreseen from the start”, says Solveig Moldrheim Senior Advisor Education.

Women in Western Sahara discussing various dilemmas when building a democracy.
Women in Western Sahara discussing various dilemmas when building a democracy.

"With the Democracy Cake, you will better understand the basic principles on which a democratic country is ruled upon. I will strongly recommend you to use it"

Adam Bodnar, Human Rights Commissioner in Poland and Rafto Laureate 2019

The word spreads fast

The word about the unique tool has since spread across the world. In many cases, the cake has been introduced to NGOs and people part of the international network of the Foundation’s Laureates. Today there are English, Arabic, Tigrinya, Vietnamese and Polish versions of the cake standing in the shelves at the Rafto House in Bergen.

The Democracy Cake has been used in human rights training by Eritean diaspora activists in Germany, Vietnamese diaspora in USA, Sahrawis in Western Sahara and by women human rights defenders in the Middle East. A Polish version was made after Rafto Laureate 2019 Adam Bodnar was introduced to the board game when he was visiting Bergen to receive the Rafto Prize.

Discussing dilemmas rather than giving answers

The reason it works so well, Moldrheim believes lies in the fact that the board game does not give you any “rights” or “wrongs”:

“There are no pre-given answers to what a good democracy consists of. Instead, the game encourages the participants to discuss their choices and the dilemmas that goes along when choosing between the various ingredients in a democracy", she says.

A subject for reserach

Recently the Democracy Cake has been used in research at University of Oslo, studying Student teachers' perseptions of teaching materials on democracy. The article also been translated into Polish language. The article is available here

Written by: Kristine Gabrielsen, the Rafto Foundation



MORE FACTS ABOUT THE DEMOCRACY CAKE:

  • In 2014 the first printed version was launched as part of the national celebration of the 200th year anniversary of the Norwegian Constitution.
  • The board game has been used as a part of the education program at the Rafto House and in Norwegian classrooms, giving teachers, teachers students and young students a fun and different kind of democracy training.
  • The cake has also been tried out on stage in front of a live audience, and as a team-building practice for business companies in Norway.
  • The tool is free of charge
  • Today the Democracy Cake is translated into: English, Arabic, Tigrinya, Vietnamese and Polish
  • Questions, please contact our educational department: undervisning(at)rafto.no

Contact

Picture of Julie Ane Ødegaard Borge

Julie Ane Ødegaard Borge

The Rafto Foundation, Senior Advisor, Education
Means of contactContact details
Phone:922 67 974
E-mail:julie.borge@rafto.no

Teaches and coordinates the project "Fremtidspiloten" (Future Pilot)