Arguments for the expansion of formal schooling have long focused on individual outcomes from schooling, including increasing income, reducing poverty, delaying marriage, and improving health, particularly for girls and women. For nearly three decades now, global education agendas have supported girls’ education in an effort to achieve these outcomes. A large body of research analyzes girls’ individual empowerment from schooling, but less attention is given to how schooling is creating change in families and communities, particularly for lowered-caste girls in India. This article places longitudinal data from a three-year qualitative interview study of schoolgirls in Rajasthan alongside qualitative life-history interviews of girls who completed secondary school in Uttarakhand to understand how schooling affects social changes for lower castes. The analysis, using an intersectional and relational approach, illustrates how girls’ schooling shifts kin and caste relations connected to marriage and work but in ways that do not transform the stickiness of caste and gender norms. We argue that educational policies and programs must attend to the ways in which caste is implicated in achieving outcomes of delayed marriage and formal employment for lowered-caste girls in Indian communities if schooling is to create positive social change.
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The authors would like to thank Sehrish Altaf, Devleena Chatterji, Sreya Chakraborty, Namita Assi, and those who worked with J-Pal–India, including Nivedita Pooja, Mona Soni, Bharti Shakya, Saroj Rawat, Kavita Upadhyay, Lalita Palya, Sunil Kanwar, and Rekha Khichi for their contributions to the study. Our appreciate also goes to the Department of Labor, which funded the three-year research project, and the Gates Foundation that funded the tracer study.
© 2020 by The Author(s).