CYPRUS: Time to encourage young people with initiative

The crime rate is particularly high among the 16-30 age group and most crimes have drugs as the underlying factor, problematic families and even the pampering of parents, who, by spoiling their children they think they can get away with almost anything.

Football hooligans and the throwing of eggs at passing tourist buses in Paphos are someexamples. 

Yet the new requirements for ID for football fans has reduced this. The hooligan percentage is not large, but it is there to be noted.

Education standards in high schools are not what it should be. Our education system with aged and out of date teachers (who only think about the money) being one of the primary reasons for its decline.

Teachers are appointed based on a waiting list, with no other major criteria other than the wait, with most teachers reaching 45-50 by the time they are invited to teach. 

This low standard even had the Czech Republic and Germany warning Cyprus that they will not recognize the school leaving certificates for admission to their universities, whereas even the Cyprus University is admitting students with very low grades.

Approximately 20% of the newcomers scoring less than 50% of the minimum score set by the same university.  

The number of qualified Cypriots is very high, but one must also examine their standard, whereas the lack of knowledge of the English language is most shocking (even those who attend local English teaching colleges and universities).

There is a ray of hope for this country which is the younger generation. If one examines who helped the Syrian refugees, they will note that most volunteers were young people. 

Regarding real estate matters, however, a group of young people mainly architects/engineers, town planners got together in order to clean-up an ex-shopping mall project, abandoned for years in Limassol with all sorts of debris, from dead pigeons to syringes. 

The clean-up using their own labour fully equipped with mops, buckets, cleaning chemicals etc is progressing.

The project known as Fysko Lotus Plaza originally designed as a hotel and later converted into a shopping mall accommodating over 150 units, failed in its operation and left for the last 20 years to its fate. 

We managed the development/sale of this project into a shopping mall and notwithstanding its initial success, the “curse” (the non-payment of the common expenses) ended the project, as did the lack of attractive outlets.

We have participated partly in the effort of these young people, of turning the mall into a vibrant business hub. 

The idea is to have at the basement level, one large supermarket and retail with low-cost clothing outlets, the ground/upper level with small offices with a common entrance and common reception and the first level small retail/restaurants/pubs suitable for the younger generation.

This and other ideas by this young group is under discussion in order to make the Fysko Lotus Plaza “viable” by inviting investors/users/existing owners to turn the project as a young people’s business hub. 

We can tell you it takes a lot of courage to do the job (with no charge) with the intention not to provide profit for themselves, but to improve and operate one of the local landmarks in Limassol. 

This group offers various initiatives such as inviting Limassol people to visit and notice the change in the hope of drumming up interest.  To this end, the Municipality of Limassol is all for it and this is most positive. 

This exercise, however, is not as straightforward as it may sound. The units are owned by various people, part of the units are under tenancy, whereas evicting some remaining illegal occupiers and others will require legal procedures. 

We believe that it is a model exercise requiring Government and possibly E.U. assistance, both in terms of funding and legal guidance – most difficult (it has not materialised to date).

These young romantics must not be left on their own and Government assistance is required, especially by the Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Trade and the Ministry of Interior. 

The use of a fund coming possibly from the E.U. would be a major boost as well as assistance from the Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou foundation.

This is a generation of young people to be proud of and an example for others to follow.

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