AFTER more than a decade of waiting the Spiritual Shouter Baptist community yesterday celebrated the opening of their very first school—the St Barbara's Spiritual Shouter Baptist Primary School.
The celebration, however, is somewhat limited as the school "officially" has no principal or teachers.
Speaking to the Express yesterday, Archbishop Barbara Burke—whom the school is named after—said they have teachers and a principal "on board", but not all of them have received their letters of appointment from the Ministry of Education.
"We have teachers...they are only waiting to collect their letters. Once they do, everything will be officially on track. In fact, one of the teachers got her letter (yesterday), so she will be teaching (today). And we expect that by tomorrow all the other teachers will have their letters," she said.
"The teachers are all qualified and they can teach and by Wednesday, our principal will be on board because they expect to get the letter by then. You know how these things is, it's all a hullabaloo, yes, things are moving slowly, but it's on track," Burke said.
Construction of the St Barbara's Spiritual Shouter Baptist Primary School began last December after Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar announced it would be built along the Road Reserve off Churchill-Roosevelt Highway in Maloney.
In fact, while speaking at Spiritual Baptist Liberation Day celebrations at the Spiritual Shouter Baptist Empowerment Hall, Maloney, on March 30, 2011, Persad-Bissessar said:
"I am proud to announce today, on this 15th anniversary of the Spiritual Shouter Baptist faith that the St Barbara's Shouter Baptist Primary School will be built here; your decade of wait and disappointment is over."
The school currently has 105 pupils enrolled in classes ranging from first year to standard three. And according to the Education Facilities Co Ltd (EFCL), the 2000-square foot building was completed in three months by Super Industrial Services Ltd using a non-traditional building method at a cost of $28,330,718.75 and can accommodate a maximum of 250 students.
Speaking at the opening, Burke described the occasion as joyful after years of feeling like a "second class citizen".
"I feel elated, I feel so joyful in my soul because it was 14 long years we have been pleading and asking for a school.
Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh, who was at the school yesterday, described it as a historic moment in the history of Trinidad and Tobago.
"It is a historic day in the history of the Shouter Spiritual Baptist faith, it's the first school that has been constructed in the history of the Spiritual Shouter Baptist faith because it the first school that has been constructed for that faith, not only in Trinidad but the wider Caribbean and the world at large," he claimed.
First year teacher Leiselle Paul, a Spiritual Shouter Baptist, said she has taught at numerous primary schools but felt compelled to be a part of something that she believed in.
"Besides feeling relieved to have such small classes which mean I can actually spend more time on each child, I am pleased to be a part of the new school that will teach a faith that I share and believe in, so I am really happy to be here," she said.