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Author ORCID Identifier



Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Cristine A. Smith

Second Advisor

Joseph B. Berger

Third Advisor

Alice Nash

Subject Categories



The Role of Training in the Development of Amerindian Communities in Guyana: A Qualitative Case Study




Ed.D., University of Massachusetts Amherst

Directed by: Professor Cristine A. Smith

Training is widely used in the field of international and community development as a capacity-building strategy, but evaluations of its impact on individuals and communities raise concerns about the effectiveness of training. Scholars and program planners also question the appropriateness of training in non-western contexts as a tool aligned with dominant development approaches. These concerns are pivotal to current development efforts among indigenous peoples.

This dissertation explored the role of training in community development among Guyana’s indigenous peoples, the Amerindians, addressing the question: What role has training played in development initiatives that have taken place in one particular Amerindian community? Using a case study approach, I investigated three community-based projects in an Amerindian village. Specifically, the goal was to collect information about project trainees’ views of their training experience, evidence of trainees’ new knowledge and skills, ways that trainees utilized new knowledge and skills, and the influence of training on both individual and community initiatives.

I collected data from relevant documents, face-to-face interviews and focus group discussions, and personal observations. The interviews and focus group discussions involved project trainees, representatives from external agencies, local project organizers, and members of the community who were actively involved in community development activities. For data analysis, I used a framework that considered training in relation to development paradigms and approaches, material advancement, capacity building, opportunities and vulnerabilities, and the individual and the community. I was also guided by the premise that there is a connection between development approach and capacity building as a result of training.

A key finding of the study was that, while training was essential to augmenting and strengthening capacities of trainees to meet specific project goals, challenges to project sustainability and concurrent weakening of certain traditional values, practices, and support systems significantly limited project outcomes and gains. The case study highlights factors that contributed to community project leaders employing certain development approaches and strategies, as well as issues associated with undertaking community-based entrepreneurial activities. The study offers recommendations that may guide future development plans in this village and may be relevant to other indigenous communities.


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