School-Community partnerships for rural economic development in Trinidad and Tobago: A qualitative case study

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University of New Brunswick


Rural students in Trinidad and Tobago often receive an education that does not align with their unique requirements for community growth and economic development. This study examined the perceptions of educators, students, and community members in one Trinidad and Tobago community about the roles the secondary school, working in collaboration with the community, might play in the region's economic advancement. The following overarching question guided the study: “What are the perceptions of Trinidad and Tobago’s rural educators, students, and community members regarding school-community partnerships in promoting community economic development?” Utilizing a decolonization theoretical framework within an interpretative paradigm, this qualitative case study facilitated an understanding of the multiplicities in participants’ lives as rural residents, students, and educators. The setting consisted of 78 participants located in four neighboring coastal villages and one secondary school serving most of the four villages’ students. Five data collection strategies were employed consisting of a survey, interviews, observations, zines, and field notes. Findings showed participants’ deep love for their community but a concern about systems in place that hindered capitalizing on their community’s potential for growth and development. Participants expressed appreciation for a secondary school in their community but acknowledged that the highly academic curricula offered few education opportunities for students at the lower end of the academic achievement spectrum. Findings also showed that, although participants perceived the current school-community partnership as weak, they recognized the important role these partnerships can play in generating community development and identified strategies for strengthening their own partnerships.