This research investigates the experience of early school-leaving (dropping out of primary and/or secondary school) and its effects on people's socio-economic livelihoods in Trinidad and Tobago.

In addition to the reasons for leaving school, the study also looks at the impact of geography on returns to education, certification, income, and breaking the cycle of early school-leaving generally.

The research aims to debunk the myths of state-dependence, criminality, and low-achievement by examining the heterogeneity of this population in relation to their circumstances and location while going to school and their adult life-outcomes. By exploring participants' lives in and out of school, their successes and hardships, as well as their recommendations to improve educational opportunities for children currently in school, the study brings together suggestions for intervention from key stakeholders to improve school retention and maximize income-generation for young adults with low educational attainment looking for work.

Driven entirely by empirical data collected with community-based researchers engaged across the country, the research analyses 1880 semi-structured interviews.

The study asks:

What were the household characteristics of participants while attending school, immediately after leaving school, and now?

Who returned to education or continued to develop their skills, and how did their characteristics and communities differ from those who did not attain more education since leaving school?

To what extent do the reasons for school-leaving affect livelihoods and outcomes?

Certain urban places, such as Morvant and San Juan/Laventille in the St. George West school district are socio-spatially stigmatized and marginalized; however, a cursory examination of dropout data from the Ministry of Education reveals that the school district with the highest number of dropouts, and the highest number of female dropouts, after primary school is the south district of Victoria.