PHASE one of the $11 million Teachers’ Centre has been officially opened, 25 years after then-president of the TT Unified Teachers’ Association (TTUTA) Anthony Garcia, wrote to Agriculture Minister at the time, Dr Keith Rowley, requesting a donation of State land for the centre.
Yesterday, Garcia as Education Minister, attended the formal opening ceremony of the administrative building at Connector Road in Carlsen Field describing it as a tangible reality of a vision realised. It was the vision of the founding fathers of the association which Garcia referred to as one of the ministry’s most valuable stakeholders.
"This centre has many significances attached to it because if we are to progress then we have to hold hands with all stakeholders. We must hold hands and work towards the upliftment of the educational system," Garcia said. Phase two consists of an auditorium, conference hall and service buildings. Phase three consists of a model school, apartment complex, multi-purpose court, football field and bleachers.
"This is not only a building, not only mortar and bricks. This is an occasion that helps in the education system. I was here from the beginning and a Teachers’ Centre was always one of our goals. Today the realisation of this goal is very important to all of us."
Giving an overview of the project, TTUTA’s outgoing president Lynsley Doodhai said in a letter dated October 4, 1995, Rowley wrote Garcia advising that Cabinet had agreed to lease the land to the association. On January 24, 1996, a sod-turning ceremony was held but construction did not materialise at the end of that year as initially planned.
Doodhai said: "In fact, the lease arrangements and the deed of title were not finalised until 2005. This centre promises a myriad of logistical, social, economic and ecological benefits."
Construction began in April 2018 with an estimated duration of about 300 days and was expected to be completed January this year. The project financier is Republic Bank Limited.
Doodhai thanked former TTUTA presidents among them Garcia, Trevor Oliver, Clyde Permell, Roustan Job and Devanand Sinanan for their leadership of this committee during their tenures.
On November 5, teachers are expected to stage a peaceful protest in the streets of San Fernando, like the one in Port of Spain, to highlight outstanding issues like stalled wage negotiations. TTUTA has been calling on teachers to participate and those who do not want to, should use the day to "rest and reflect".
Representatives from other associations as well as the MP for Caroni Centra Dr Bhoendradatt Tewarie attended the ceremony yesterday.