Insights on the Marginalization of Poor Children in the Education System of Trinidad and Tobago

  • Jerome De Lisle


Evidence points to multiple, intersecting marginalizations within the education system of Trinidad and Tobago. These are attributed to retained colonial structures, policies, practices, and institutional processes, as well as individual behaviors, beliefs, and expectations. The intersectionality of marginalization has not been well researched, with emphasis instead upon a few identity variables, most notably gender. Little is known about the critical role of socioeconomic status (SES), although there is strong evidence of urban and rural poverty. This chapter attempts to address this gap in knowledge by exploring the relationship between SES and achievement in Trinidad and Tobago. Evidence is drawn from primary and secondary analyses of data of International Learning Assessments (ILAs) and from National Learning Assessments (NLAs). ILA data show that poverty is concentrated in many secondary schools because of early selection at 11+. NLA data show sharp differences across geographic regions and gender. Evidence is also gathered from a local exploratory study of school SES, in which a multidimensional SES construct was developed and used as a proxy for family and childhood poverty. Although traditional components of school SES such as parental occupation and parental education were important, an expanded measure that included neighborhood, housing, and family structure effects appeared to add significant explanatory value. To explain the role of SES, I explore theory on social, cultural, and economic capital, arguing that relational cultural capital and social capital might be the primary determinants of socioeconomic disadvantage within this context.


Caribbean Poverty Socioeconomic status Marginalization Inequality in education 


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Jerome De Lisle
    • 1
  1. 1.School of EducationThe University of the West IndiesSt. AugustineTrinidad and Tobago

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