On 30/5/13 the topic Culture and Heritage was discussed.  Even though no politician or policymaker could be present to hear what young people had to suggest on the topic, the conversation was intense and useful conclusions were extracted.  

Through questionnaires shared in public from before, in a sample of 1757 people, mainly consisting of young people aged between 18 and 35 years old, we realized that the conversation for Culture and Heritage is very important for our country.  The youth claim that, as all important aspects of life are highly dependent on education, the necessary respect on civilization and cultural heritage has to be strongly based on correct teaching methods as well.  Amongst others, it was proposed that more emphasis has to be given on Cyprus history since up to now, only Greece history has been being taught thoroughly.  

The use of the Cypriot dialect in schools had been also discussed.  The Cypriot dialect, as stated during the conversation, should not be totally banned inside the classrooms - this practice is followed by some \\\"old fashioned\\\" teachers.  There was a suggestion to form an official rule regarding this matter, that will allow and guide the students to use Cypriot dialect freely in their everyday lifestyle without any limitations but to be in position to do it correctly, so as not to be mistaken or confused with the Greek language.  Moreover, the attendees in the European Youth Week, suggested the enforcement of museum lessons in schools so that the students will have the opportunity from young age to have a better knowledge and a clearer insight of their country\\\'s history, culture and civilization through visits to museums.

In relation to the museums, the results of the survey showed that 80% of young people do not visit often Cyprus museums with given reason for example, lack of free time or due to limited accessibility or either long distance.  During the discussion, the young people expressed their willingness to visit museums more often if they become more interesting, suggesting modernization of them.  Also, they proposed the transformation of the museums to interactive, that would make their visit more pleasant and substantial in terms of meeting their educational expectations.

Furthermore, the youth is requesting for better information for the action of the Department of Antiquities.  More than the 90% of the young people that had answered the questionnaire, believes that the preservation and conservation of the historical monuments and the archaeological places of our country is of great importance but only 58% of them feels that the Department of Antiquities is effective towards this direction.  

In addition, people is demanding that there should be better information and clarity regarding the funds given by EU for the preparation and presentation of cultural events.  The young people wish these funds to be given in specific groups like municipalities, cultural groups and schools for those events rather than private organizations whose target is the financial gain mostly than the promotion of our culture and heritage.  

Finally, the survey showed that young people feel that the best promotion of Cyprus culture is being done by the travel agencies (52%) and by the Cyprus Tourism Organization (51%).  It also showed that the private, the nongovernmental and the youth organizations are better promoters of Cyprus culture and civilization in comparison to the Ministries of Interior, Tourism and Foreign Affairs together, abroad.  During the discussion, there was also a suggestion for easier accessibility of the public to information, either in printed or electronic form, regarding cultural events and Cyprus sightseeing and museums especially in places like municipalities and youth centers.  

The discussion gave youth the power to continue working for the protection and the conservation of our culture and heritage in our island.  European Youth Week was an opportunity for all the young people of Cyprus to pass the message to the outer world that youth has a voice that needs and has to be heard loud because they want to be present when decisions that are affecting their future are being taken.  The more the young people come together and unite, the stronger and more effective their voice becomes in their struggle for a better future.

 

Prepared by: Kyriaki Hajilazarou & Eleni Efthymiou