News Releases

UWI St. Augustine conducts national study on school dropouts in T&T

For Release Upon Receipt - July 17, 2014

St. Augustine

ST. AUGUSTINE, Trinidad and Tobago – The UWI St. Augustine’s Department of Geography, in collaboration with the Institute for Gender and Development Studies (IGDS), the School of Education and the Women’s Institute for Alternative Development (WINAD), is conducting a national study to investigate the livelihoods and futures of adults who have dropped out of school.   

The study, titled A Matter of Survival: A life-course approach to understanding the decision-making and economic livelihoods of school dropouts in Trinidad and Tobago will investigate the life-course trajectories and complex decision-making of early school leavers in Trinidad & Tobago in order to analyse their challenges and successes since leaving school, returns to education or training, and economic stability and livelihoods.  The study aims to generate evidence-based research that can inform interventions to help students stay in school, and improve the lives of those who leave school early.  

The project has engaged in community-based training of about 50 researchers across the country, including Tobago, who are currently conducting surveys and interviews with adults between the ages of 18 and 45 who had left school before completing either the primary or secondary school completing exams.  The study, which started in September 2013 and ends in March, 2015, hopes to de-stigmatize the discourse of school dropouts, and provide data required to affect the agendas of NGOs and the Government (including the Ministries of Education, National Security, Gender and Youth, and People and Social Development) towards poverty reduction, building human capital, strengthening families and communities, and planning tools and resources to decrease truancy, delinquency, and criminality. The research also aims to get citizens to think critically about education systems and the need for effective in-school interventions and relevant out-of-school alternatives and transitions that contribute to job satisfaction, community empowerment, and household resilience. 

The problem of high school dropouts has generated increased interest among researchers, policymakers, and educators in recent years. Often, circumstances in students' lives and an inadequate response to those circumstances from the various authorities in their lives (school, parents) lead to them dropping out of school, but research has not shed light on what becomes of these students.  This study contributes to the research being done to understand and solve this complex social and educational problem. 

The project team is composed of Principal Investigator, Dr Priya Kissoon (Department of Geography); Co-Investigator, Dr Jennifer Collymore (Department of Geography); and Data Analysis Collaborators: Prof Patricia Mohammed (IGDS), Dr Jeniffer Mohammed (School of Education), Dr Matthew Wilson (Department of Geography), Dr Joseph Springer (Ryerson University, Toronto), and Folade Mutota (WINAD). 

If your organisation provides any programmes or services that support early school leavers and you would like to tell the researchers about the work that you do, please call the Research Project Office at 662-2002 ext. 84130 or email  If you are an early school leaver (or know of an early school leaver) and would like to share your story with the researchers, please call WINAD at 621-2495 or email


About The UWI

Since its inception in 1948, The University of the West Indies (UWI) has evolved from a fledgling college in Jamaica with 33 students to a full-fledged, regional University with over 50,000 students. Today, UWI is the largest, most longstanding higher education provider in the Commonwealth Caribbean, with four campuses in Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Open Campus. The UWI has faculty and students from more than 40 countries and collaborative links with 160 universities globally; it offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food & Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science and Technology and Social Sciences. UWI’s seven priority focal areas are linked closely to the priorities identified by CARICOM and take into account such over-arching areas of concern to the region as environmental issues, health and wellness, gender equity and the critical importance of innovation. Visit