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$5M Costaatt campus coming to Grande
A $5 million College of Science, Technology and Applied Arts of T&T (Costaatt) campus is set to officially open in Sangre Grande by month’s end. The campus, expected to be opened by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, will give an educational boost to communities stretching from Arima, Valencia, Toco, Mathura, Matelot, Cumuto, Tamana, Brazil, Manzanilla, Biche, Mayaro, Rio Claro and Guayaguayare. Tertiary Education Minister Fazal Karim on Thursday described the campus as a beacon of learning in the north east region, which will help improve access for students and adults wishing to pursue tertiary education. On January 23, the campus took in its first batch of 200 students. An estimated 1,000 students can be enrolled at the campus. It is anticipated that some 4,000 citizens will be able to access tertiary education through the campus by 2015. The opening of the campus has seen the creation of 20 administrative, 20 full-time faculty and 25 part-time faculty jobs.
Distance mode teaching
Some programmes currently offered include degrees in nursing and allied health, social work, criminal justice, entrepreneurship, library science, natural sciences, psychology and environmental management. The campus will be networked with other Costaatt campuses so that information will be available to its students. “We propose to have teaching by distance mode and blended learning. So what is taught at other campuses can be transmitted to the Sangre Grande campus by distance mode,” said Karim. To get the campus up and running, Karim said the shell of the old Ascot Cinema on the Eastern Main Road in Sangre Grande was first identified, leased and refurbished. Karim explained that approximately $5 million was spent in outfitting the building with furniture, air condition units, a library, administrative office and labs.
$2.5 million nursing lab
A state-of-the-art patient simulation laboratory which supports the nursing programme, has cost taxpayers $2.5 million. “Bearing in mind we have within the eastern area three hospitals—Arima, Sangre Grande and Mayaro—and a number of health centres which are earmarked to be opened longer hours by the Ministry of Health, this will respond to the vacancies for nurses,” the minister said. Costaatt, Karim said, will be partnering with the Eastern Regional Health Authority to provide instructions for nursing students we well. The building comprises 17,000 square feet and there are 14 instructional spaces, including ten general purpose classrooms, two computer labs including a fully outfitted Apple MacIntosh lab and a multi-purpose science laboratory. Karim explained that the campus will also be part of a Workforce Assessment Centre initiative under his ministry to help individuals who have the requisite skills but no certification.
Explaining that the leasing of the building will be temporary, since plans are in the pipeline to build a permanent campus, Karim explained that the campus is set to target students from 25 secondary schools in the region. Approximately 6,000 graduates who exited secondary schools over the last five years, Karim said, would have been underserved in terms of provision of tertiary education along with 59,000 working individuals whose highest educational attainment is either at primary or secondary level. Karim explained that a proposal for the development of the campus, which was undertaken by Costaatt in September of 2010 and revised in January 2011, showed that an estimated population of 120,000 people in the region are underserved in terms of provisions of tertiary education.
“We see this as an opportunity where people can move from welfare to workfare.”
Karim explained that students will not be inconvenienced in having to travel to a tertiary-level institution outside of the region, which will put an ease on their parents’ pockets. For T&T to move forward, Karim said, the country has to increase the focus on human and education development, inclusiveness, diversity and competitiveness. Karim explained that he has already spoke with Transport Minister Devant Maharaj in assisting the transportation of students from the outlined areas to the campus using a Public Transport Service Commission (PTSC) bus service. Karim said placement of graduates through the On the Job Training (OJT) programme was also being worked out. In the first instance, Karim said approximately 150 to 175 students will graduate. Given the capacity to increase enrolment to almost 1,000 students, it is expected that the site will potentially graduate approximately 200-250 students each year thereafter, Karim explained.
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