United Way Trinidad and Tobago set out to pilot the Collective Impact Model, also referred to as Community Impact, by addressing one of the country’s most challenging social issues, School Dropouts, in Fifth Company, a community in Moruga. United Way Trinidad and Tobago, acting as a convener, invited a number of partners to create a strategy to address School Dropouts and invest in the implementation of the strategy.

The strategy developed through a number of stakeholder workshops and underpinned by research is built on the philosophy that:

  1. the most effective way to reduce the number of children who may ultimately drop out is to initiate programmes early in a child’s life; and
  2. by creating the conditions for children to achieve specific milestones, they are likely to stay in school and succeed.

A number of community conversations in Fifth Company revealed that the four (4) most deep-seated causes of students’ early exit from school are:

  1. poor parenting,
  2. illiteracy, sometimes caused by an undetected disability,
  3. no additional academic assistance for struggling students and
  4. poverty.

The strategy to tackle these root causes comprises multi pronged community level interventions which will be executed over a three (3) to five (5) year period. The six (6) components of the strategy are described below.

  1. In Reach Parenting programme which will tackle poor parenting and poverty in a specific number of homes
  2. Literacy programme which will tackle illiteracy by promoting early literacy
  3. Teacher training which will enable teachers to detect indicators of developmental gaps; Student testing which will assess students that exhibit indicators of developmental gaps; and Follow Up Services/Therapy which will provide students, where required, with the necessary support and therapeutic services. Collectively these elements will tackle undetected disabilities
  4. Advocacy to ensure the implementation of special education programmes including the reintroduction of special ed teachers into primary schools. This will assist in tackling illiteracy in children with learning disabilities
  5. Out-of-School programme to assist struggling students who require additional academic assistance and facilitate holistic development of children
  6. Capacity building of the Village Council to ensure programme sustainability even after UWTT’s exit of the community.

UWTT, having engaged in a transparent procurement process, has contracted the Toco Foundation to implement the In Reach Parenting Programme and is currently in negotiation with the Caribbean Kids and Families Therapy Organisation for implementation of the Programme of Teacher training, Student assessments and Follow up services and therapy. The Literacy Programme is under the remit of the Ministry of Education and will be executed in the Fifth Company Baptist Primary School from September 2015 for a period of one academic year. Procurement of organisations and/or Consultants to undertake the remaining three (3) components (Out-of-School programme, Capacity Building and Advocacy) will commence in the last quarter of 2015.

The In Reach Parenting Programme which is the foundation of the overall strategy to address the issue of school dropouts commenced on May 1, 2015.

United Way Trinidad and Tobago is currently looking for partners interested in collaborating on this initiative. You may contact us via email at unitedway@uwtt.com

 

Dated: July 2015