(L-R )COSTAATT Board Members, Mr. Curtis Orr, Mr. Dale Deolal Nandlal, Mrs. Patrice King-Newton, and Mr. Carl Cupid, Chaguanas Borough Councilor for Charlieville-Ms. Falisha Isahak, COSTAATT Vice Chairman- Dr. Colin Furlonge, Minister of Science, Technology and Tertiary Education – Senator the Honourable Fazal Karim, MIC Chairman-Mr. David Lee, Chaguanas West Member of Parliament/Minister of Works and Infrastructure – Honourable Jack Warner, His Worship the Mayor of Chaguanas – Mr. Orlando Nagessar, COSTAATT Chairman- Dr. Allan I. McKenzie, COSTAATT President- Mr. Emmanuel E. Gonsalves, MSTTE Permanent Secretary- Mr. Jaggernauth Soom, Inter-Religious Organisation members – Mr. Harry Maharaj and Haji Imtiaz Ali.
On Wednesday 13th June, 2012, Senator the Honourable Fazal Karim, Minister of Science, Technology and Tertiary Education, along with the Honourable Jack Warner, Member of Parliament for Chaguanas West and Minister of Works and Infrastructure, addressed specially invited guests, management, faculty, staff and students at the official ceremony to dedicate a 30 acre parcel of land in Chaguanas, where preliminary works will begin for the construction of the main campus facility of the College of Science, Technology and Applied Arts of Trinidad and Tobago (COSTAATT).
At the ceremony, the Honourable Minister, Fazal Karim said that the land, located at Pierre Link Road, Chaguanas, which was previously used for cultivating cane would now be used to cultivate the brains of the future.
The dedication of the land in Chaguanas forms part of a series of strategic developments by the Government to increase access to tertiary education in previously underserved areas. Earlier this year, the College opened the doors of its Sangre Grande Campus that will serve students in areas stretching from Arima, Valencia and Toco, to Mayaro, Rio Claro and Guayaguayare.
Minister Karim, said “The construction of this campus will allow COSTAATT to invest its funds in its own facility rather than spending substantial amounts of money in rent and accommodation.”
With its three campuses, in Port of Spain, San Fernando and Tobago, since its establishment, COSTAATT has spent a total of $97.7M.
Chairman of the Board of COSTAATT, Dr. Allan McKenzie, who also addressed the gathering emphasized that “COSTAATT recognises its responsibility and takes seriously its mandate of providing access to quality and relevant tertiary education that is aligned with the Government’s goal of attaining a 60 percent participation rate in tertiary level education in the country by 2015.
Dr. McKenzie further indicated that “the growth, increasing relevance and development of the College demonstrates the need for the main campus.”
MP for Chaguanas West, Jack Warner said he was touched by COSTAATT’s motto of “Transforming lives, transforming communities, transforming the nation… one student at a time” as he believes a country can only proceed and advance through education. He continued, “If there is any institution which can transform this nation, education is it… Education is what we need for social mobility… A lack of education is why we are here. A lack of education is why crime is high. A country can only progress and advance through education.”
Construction of the Chaguanas campus will begin in September 2012 and will host modern facilities for teaching and research. Additionally, the campus will be host to services such as banks and other businesses that will serve the surrounding communities. The new facility is targeted to accommodate up to 2500 students and classes will commence in January 2013.
Mayor of Chaguanas, Orlando Nagessar stated that the Borough of Chaguanas is ready and will be honoured to have the presence of COSTAATT in central Trinidad. He added that the move towards construction of the campus is timely and in keeping with the nation’s acknowledgement of a demand for ease of access to superior education.
The Minister of Science, Technology and Tertiary Education recognised the progress the College has made in the eleven years since its establishment and noted that perhaps the time is right for the next stage in its development by becoming the nation’s second public university. “COSTAATT has over 11,000 students and 11 years so may be your time has come,” Karim said.
He also paid tribute to former Minister of Education Mr. Clive Pantin and Sister Paul D’Ornellas for their role in the early formation of COSTAATT.
Prayers for the dedication of the lands were offered by representatives of the Inter-Religious Organisation and the Honourable Minister Karim planted a tree to commemorate the next phase of growth in the College’s history.