Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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The relevance of vocational education to the livelihoods of rural youth, Luang Prabang Province, Laos

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posted on 2021-11-23, 09:39 authored by Soukkaseum, Phonexay

Poverty reduction is a top global development priority. Among Least Developed Countries (a United Nations measurement which includes Laos), poverty reduction has been set as the highest development priority for governments, especially since the early 2000s. Scholars and researchers argue that raising national human capital through the provision of equitable access and quality of education could not only reduce poverty, but also increase economic growth, promote democracy, and ensure the sustainability of development.  This research examines specifically the role of technical and vocational education and training (TVET) in supporting the livelihoods of rural people, especially the Indigenous youth in Luang Prabang province, situated in northern Laos. A sustainable livelihood approach, with an emphasis on human capital and human capabilities, was employed to examine this relationship. Qualitative and ethnographic research methodologies were employed, with interviews, a focus group and transect walks used as methods for data collection and analysis.  Results show that the current TVET policy and interventions have concentrated primarily on achieving (income) poverty reduction and economic development objectives, neglecting the importance of other multiple dimensions of human development. This research also reveals that the livelihood aspirations of rural youth are diverse and extend beyond economic prospects. They aspire for general wellbeing, democracy (self-agency and freedom) and social justice. If these dimensions of human development are to be promoted, the government may need to reshape its policy direction by incorporating a human capabilities approach in TVET, or more broadly in the national education system, while still fulfilling the desire for economic development objectives.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Development Studies

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Development Studies

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences


Palomino-Schalscha, Marcela