East Port of Spain schools get $835,190 in pan donations

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

EPOS chairman Hillan Morean – File photo by Sureash Cholai

Six primary schools in the east Port of Spain district have received $835,190 in steelpan donations to assist with their music programmes.

Laventille Girls’ Government, Laventille Boys’ Government, Morvant Epiphany Anglican, Lower Morvant Government, Chinapoo Government and St Margaret’s Boys’ Anglican Primary Schools are the beneficiaries.

Each school received a 16-piece set including tenor, double tenor, double second, double guitar, triple cello, tenor bass and six bass pan sets.

All stands, protective cases and pan sticks were included.

In June 2023, the East Port-of-Spain Development Company (EPOS) approached Laventille-based steelpan manufacturers Panland TT Ltd to provide steelpans and accessories for schools to revamp the Pan-in-Schools programme within the district.

After this meeting, Panland agreed to assist EPOS in assessing the current conditions and inventory of steelpans in all schools within the district. Panland made recommendations on which steelpans needed repairing or replacement to ensure the continuance of the Pan-in-Schools programme.

Principal of St Margaret’s Boys’ Anglican Primary Colette Perez said at the Pan-in-Schools ceremony on June 27 the school’s programme began in 2002. Since then, the school has been crowned Junior Panorama champions for 12 consecutive years .

“We have also been awarded the Hummingbird Medal (gold), the Sir Ellis Clarke Award of Excellence and the Port of Spain Award for Culture in Youths for our musical achievements. This is only a few of the awards we have won.”

Perez said every year group, from second year to standard five, has its own orchestra.

But, she said, the pans have “depleted and need changing,” due to this widespread use.

“This is the emphasis we’ve placed on our national instrument. It is not just a few boys playing or a Panorama site; it is the culture of this school.”

Perez said the school’s recent graduation theme, “We have so much to be thankful for,” summarises how the school feels about the donation.

Music teacher at St Margaret’s Carel Taylor said he looks forward to using the new instruments in his classes.

“I have been with the school since 2017. I like seeing how the students have developed over the years and our focus is to ensure we have a continuous growth in the coming years.

The donation will definitely help the school to keep executing our duties at Panorama and other events.”

EPOS chairman Hillan Morean said this donation was the result of “good planning by good governance.”

Morean said EPOS hopes to engage Panland in a memorandum of understanding to establish more youth pan sites across the district.

“If we can equip our schools with initiatives like these in the long-run, our country will benefit greatly.”

Minister of Housing and Urban Development Camille Robinson-Regis said initiatives like these make east Port of Spain unique.

Robinson-Regis stressed recognising the importance of preserving and nurturing the culture of pan, especially in the region of its birth.

“Investing in the future, fostering a sense of pride, remembering where the pan started and where it is going and ensuring our young people know the value of the steelpan is vital, not only to east Port of Spain but to the rest of TT.”

Robinson-Regis said she was pleased to recognise Panland in light of Micro-, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Day.

“Panland is one of two recipients of government grants of up to half a million dollars to boost steelpan manufacturing for export.”

Robinson-Regis said as work towards expanding the programme, includes upgrading the music room at St Margaret’s.