Parents seeking to raise $15M to rebuild school

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by: Radhica De Silva

Hav­ing wait­ed for four years on the gov­ern­ment to re­build their de­mol­ished school, par­ents of pupils at­tend­ing Princes Town Pres­by­ter­ian No 1 are now on a mis­sion to raise $15 mil­lion to re­build their school them­selves.

They have al­ready se­cured a de­sign, ob­tained per­mis­sion from the Pres­by­ter­ian Pri­ma­ry School Board and are in the process of or­ga­niz­ing fundrais­ers to at­tract sup­port­ers both lo­cal­ly and abroad.

The com­plet­ed de­signs were on dis­play at the Uni­ver­si­ty of T&T Tarou­ba cam­pus.

UTT en­gi­neer­ing stu­dent An­nis­er Ab­dool said the de­sign was part of their fi­nal year project and will be pre­sent­ed to the Min­is­ter of Ed­u­ca­tion An­tho­ny Gar­cia soon.

“Since the school was re­lo­cat­ed, the chil­dren have been suf­fer­ing so we de­cid­ed to re­design the en­tire school on the same land op­po­site the bank. We have the prin­ci­pal and staff. This school can ac­com­mo­date 820 stu­dents and can be con­struct­ed at a cost of $14 mil­lion in­clu­sive of labour.”

PTA pres­i­dent No­la Ramjohn-Karim said they were ex­cit­ed at the prospect of get­ting back a new school.

“We are ex­cit­ed about it. When we were in­vit­ed to view it we de­cid­ed that we should not miss this op­por­tu­ni­ty. We have been prac­ti­cal­ly beg­ging to get this school built. We have seen the de­signs and we think this could be­come a re­al­i­ty.

If fund­ing is the prob­lem, we will raise our own funds.”

She said the Board signed a doc­u­ment in 2016 giv­ing au­tho­riza­tion to the Min­istry to de­mol­ish and re­build the school.

How­ev­er, while de­mo­li­tion oc­curred in Au­gust 2017, the school was nev­er re­built.

“We are ap­peal­ing to the gov­ern­ment to pro­vide the funds to re­build. With $15 mil­lion we are pos­i­tive we can do this. If it does not hap­pen, we will do our own fund rais­ing and put things in place. We al­ready have a few sources in­ter­na­tion­al­ly and lo­cal­ly. This is the high­est per­form­ing school in the South East­ern Dis­trict and we need to get the school built for the chil­dren. If we have to raise the mon­ey we will,” she added.

Nola Ramjohn Karim takes a closer look of a prototype of Princes Town Presbyterian #1 Primary school, during UTT Tarouba South Campus open day. Photo by Kristian De Silva.

Nola Ramjohn Karim takes a closer look of a prototype of Princes Town Presbyterian #1 Primary school, during UTT Tarouba South Campus open day. Photo by Kristian De Silva.

She not­ed that the struc­ture will be built on the same spot and soil test­ing has al­ready been done.

“They have de­signed the school for park­ing and they can fa­cil­i­tate all re­quire­ments on the said par­cel of land,” she added.

As­sis­tant Pro­fes­sor at UTT Dr Clint Suther­land said the school was part of an en­gi­neer­ing show­case dis­played by all en­gi­neer­ing stu­dents in civ­il, me­chan­i­cal, elec­tri­cal and chem­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing.

“They bring to­geth­er their work which is main­ly aimed at na­tion­al de­vel­op­ment. Some of the projects are ser­vice learn­ing projects. With re­gard to me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing you will see the cre­ative projects they did with com­mer­cial po­ten­tial. Our stu­dents show­case their work to in­dus­try,” he said.

The school, at Ed­ward Street, Princes Town was deemed un­fit for oc­cu­pa­tion and in 2015, the Min­istry shut it down and or­ga­nized a shift sys­tem with the Princes Town Pres­by­ter­ian No 2 school.

For four years, the 900 plus pupils from both schools op­er­at­ed a shift sys­tem.

She al­so said that in Oc­to­ber 2016 af­ter sev­er­al rounds of talks with the Min­istry, the Board fi­nal­ly grant­ed per­mis­sion to the Min­istry to build the school. In Feb­ru­ary, Min­is­ter Gar­cia as­sured par­ents that con­struc­tion will be­gin. How­ev­er no work was ever done.

Ef­forts to con­tact Min­is­ter Gar­cia on his cel­lu­lar phone for com­ment proved fu­tile as calls to his cel­lu­lar phone went unan­swered.

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