Abstract: Barriers to educational achievement in Cuje, Nicaragua

Research of both national and international development efforts emphasizes the value of education to community development, but poverty imposes realities that act as powerful barriers to educational achievement. This study seeks to explore the structural and cultural factors that affect educational achievement in the rural community of Cuje, Nicaragua. I wish to learn whether there are changes which, using limited resources, could increase educational achievement and, in turn, help to improve the quality of life for local residents. The primary component of this study will be field research composed of qualitative ethnographic interviews with a diverse array of community members, local teachers, and political leaders. These interviews will investigate the historical, economic, and cultural factors that have influenced the structure and understandings of educational achievement.  I will use qualitative data analysis software to analyze my findings, and create a research paper focused on ways to better harness education opportunities in Cuje that reflect and further the goals of the community.  This study functions as a part of the MANOS project, a research group at William and Mary which partners with the people of Cuje to improve community health. Using the information I gain, I hope to add a new dimension to MANOS’ work in Cuje, by incorporating schools and education into the efforts to improve health and health care.  I also hope that my research will help bring a better understanding of education, development and community that may provide a model for efforts in other parts of the world.