It was Christmas 2012.
Single mom, Cheryl Alexander, lived with her four children in a small house in Jacob’s Hill, Wallerfield blocked around with plywood and galvanise sheets.
A $2.5 million printing press sitting idle in a University of T&T’s (UTT) warehouse for seven years will play an integral role in the setting up of the university’s first printing institute. The move to establish The Printing Institute of UTT is being headed by Tertiary Education Minister Fazal Karim, following a meeting with Public Utilities Minister Nizam Baksh and UTT officials on January 15, in Port-of-Spain. The meeting was held to chart a new way forward for the printing sector.
Once established, the institute will assist in the training of students and will also print primary school textbooks for the Ministry of Education as well as postcards, government documents, brochures, road maps and book binding. UTT will also work closely with the Government Printery to exchange expertise and ideas in the printing industry. The Government Printery, which was established to provide reliable printing, binding and related services for the Government and the public, falls under Baksh’s purview.
By September of 2014, Karim said, UTT wants the equipment to be fully operational at the UTT John Donaldson Creativity Campus in Port-of-Spain, which also offers printing courses. UTT wants the Printing Institute to become operational by March of 2015, Karim said. Karim said establishing the institute was necessary since there was a dearth of skills in the printing sector from the ground up.
Many of the industry’s employees, including managers, Karim said, lacked the required training and certification which prompted the Printing and Packaging Industry Council in 2010 to call for the establishment of the institute. “This would obviously be a critical development for the sector,” Karim said. He said the first step the ministry took last May was to offer six-week workshops and courses in printing to employees and employers involved in the printing sector at UTT’s Chaguanas campus.
‘The nucleus of Caribbean printing’
Karim said the institute would form part of a Workforce Assessment Centre, where students taking various courses can be trained and certified to efficiently and effectively carry out their jobs. “T&T can become the nucleus of Caribbean printing...” Karim said. Karim said the printing press which was purchased by the PNM administration, but left idle at one of its warehouses, would now be put to good use.
“This piece of equipment will be used as a training tool for students. It would offer hands-on training in the classroom,” Karim said. Although Karim could not say for what purpose the printing press had been purchased, he said they intended to utilise it to its full capacity.
He said printing of primary school text books would be looked at and discussed with Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh.
The Ministry of Education, through its Textbook Rental/Loan Programme, provides textbooks to ensure that all students have easy affordable access to the learning materials required for the core curriculum areas. Karim said the printing press, which offers two-colour offset printing, electronic cutting, stitching, folding, image setting and graphic art film processing would be upgraded to deliver new programmes.
Karim said many people involved in the printing business today were trained at the Government Printery, which was relocated last year from Port-of-Spain to Frederick Settlement, Caroni.