Education Minister Athena Michaelidou has called an emergency meeting on Wednesday with authorities dealing with delinquency in schools, following the arrest of a group of teens that set fire to a Nicosia lyceum over the weekend.

The minister will be meeting with Deputy Welfare Minister Marilena Evangelou, as the issue of delinquent behaviour is also a social issue.

Reports later said that Michaelidou will also be meeting with the chief of police on the matter.

In the recent arson the Ethnomatyra Kyprianos lyceum in Strovolos was targeted by a group of teenagers, who set fire to the school and broke windows.

Asked to comment on the matter, the ministry said that these issues are not only at schools but are island-wide and has many layers.

In total 260 cases of arson and vandalism in schools have been recorded since 2022, according to police.

Last month, the cabinet announced a series of measures to deal with delinquency in schools. According to information given to the Cyprus Mail, time is needed to see the effect the measures will have, as they have only just begun.

According to the minister, these measures concern the support of the school and the strengthening of the school’s management team, so that it can recognise incidents of violence and delinquency and, above all, record them on the electronic platform.

Michaelidou added there will be an anti-racist policy in place in all schools, which will be monitored at all levels of education. It will include concepts of civic education, peaceful resolution of disputes and dialogue.

She said the schools will be called on to implement courses on violence prevention.

The minister also mentioned that alternative learning programmes are being planned for children with provocative delinquent behaviour, so that there is an opportunity to support these specific children, but also that all the other children have the right to regular education.

Training programmes will also be offered for teachers and parents to learn more about violence prevention. Michaelidou said that during research, it emerged that teachers more aware of dealing with these issues had much lower rates of these incidents reoccurring.

Meanwhile, damages amounting to hundreds of thousands of euros have been done to schools since the beginning of 2022.

According to a House education committee earlier this year, where the issue of tightening measures at schools to combat delinquency was discussed, assistant police chief Ioannis Georgiou said that by the time the meeting was held in May, 250 instances of vandalism and arson had been recorded.

Since that meeting, another 10 cases of arson and vandalism had occurred.

Over the weekend, eight teens were arrested and remanded until Wednesday for the arson at the lyceum in Strovolos.

Police found them nearby the school, and once they were spotted, they attempted to flee only to be stopped by officers.

Late on Friday night, police and firefighters arrived at the scene and extinguished the blaze, which damaged several classrooms.

Upon further investigation, police determined that several windows had also been broken, most likely from stones thrown at them.