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.
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.