Date of Award

2014

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Education

First Advisor

Rebecca A. Maynard

Abstract

India has made remarkable progress and achieved near universal enrollment in primary school education. However, the quality of learning and progress beyond primary education are of concern; nearly 50 percent of fifth graders are unable to read second grade material and retention rates at the secondary level are quite low. The higher education sector has also shown impressive growth but faces several challenges around inequitable access and low quality. Low outcomes at the secondary and higher education levels have resulted in a significant deficit in employable and vocationally trained individuals in the workforce. Evidence shows that just 14 percent of new entrants to the workforce are likely to have a college or graduate degree. Research also shows that over the long-term low outcomes at the secondary and postsecondary levels are likely to translate into low lifetime earnings and well-being.

In light of low educational and employment outcomes, policy in India has focused on skill development through the technical and vocational education and training (TVET) sector. The primary objective of these policies is to significantly improve the rate at which youth and young adults participate in these programs. However, there is limited research evidence on TVET in India.

This dissertation addresses the need for empirical evidence on TVET to enable the policy dialogue on meeting the country's education and training challenges. Specifically, it examines the role of individual, household and macro-level factors in human capital investment decisions, especially as those might relate to participation in vocational education and training. Since the expected returns to education and training are a key determinant of investment decisions, the dissertation examines the economic returns to vocational education and training in India. Finally, the dissertation examines the impact of secondary-level vocational education on high school completion rates and postsecondary enrollment among participants.

Large-scale secondary and primary data are used in empirical models to address the questions posed above. The findings thus generated present reliable, generalizable estimates that have the potential to inform the future direction of policy in vocational education and training in India. The findings also identify groups differentially affected by current policies and can thereby be used to address inequitable access to and stratification in education and training programs in India.

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