After more than two decades of clamouring for its own space, the TT Unified Teachers’ Association (TTUTA) last Wednesday turned the sod to mark the construction of its Teachers’ Centre at Connector Road, Carlsen Field, Chaguanas.
Addressing a simple ceremony at the site, TTUTA president Lynsley Doodhai said the long-awaited project, to be constructed in three phases, is being managed by Urbasys Ltd while the preferred contractor is Team Engineering Systems Ltd.
He said construction of the first phase, an administrative centre, is to be completed in January 2019 at an overall cost of $11 million.
Doodhai said the administrative centre was essentially the integration of two blocks connected by a reception/waiting and washroom area.
Phase two is expected to contain an auditorium, conference hall and service buildings, while the third phase would contain a model school, apartment complex, multi-purpose court, football field and bleachers. No time frame has been set for the start of the other two phases.
Doodhai described the occasion as an historic day in the lives of teachers.
“One of the founding dreams of the association was to have a place where teachers can call their own,” he told an audience which included former TTUTA presidents, Education Minister Anthony Garcia, Harold Taylor, Clyde Permell and Davanand Sinanan.
He said the Teachers’ Centre would provide unique opportunities for the association, its members and other stakeholders involved in education.
Saying the facility would serve as a common meeting place for teachers throughout the country, Doodhai added: “This would allow for greater opportunities for members to come together under the umbrella of the association to engage in professional dialogue and discourse.”
In his address, Garcia spoke about his role, during his years as TTUTA president, in advancing the project.
“During my tenure with the other officers, we tried our best to ensure that the dream of our founding fathers was realised.”
He said TTUTA emerged out of struggle against the then Government in 1979 to ensure that the union received recognition.
“Receiving recognition was not a easy task. It was received only because of the very decisive action that was taken by teachers that resulted in shutdown of schools and marches around the Red House and different forms of industrial action that led to the recognition of TTUTA.”
He said they later fought to amend the Education Act to create one representative body for teachers.
Garcia said the establishment of a Teachers’ Centre was always uppermost in the minds of the founding fathers.
“It was the vision of the founding fathers that this union would be foremost, a professional organisation with a strong union clout. And coming with a professional organisation, we found that what was necessary was our own Teachers’ Centre.”