Non-Formal Education

Non-Formal Education is problematic in how it is defined because it is not defined by what non-formal education is. It is typically defined within an education spectrum that incorporates how it relates to formal education and Informal learning.

  • Formal education encompasses primary, secondary, tertiary education, including vocational and university education that culminate in the achievement of a recognised certification, diploma, degree or professional qualification.

  • Informal learning occurs whether or not there is a deliberate choice and is realised in the performance of activities in everyday situations and interactions that take place. It is without external support and is not institutionalised and occurs within the context of work, family and leisure.

  • Non-formal education and learning is characterised by a deliberate engagement of a person, in any organisation which provides purposeful education and training, even volunteering, civil service, private social service and in enterprises. Non–formal education is any type of structured and organised learning which is intentional and planned by an educational provider, but which does not lead to formal qualifications recognised by the relevant national education authorities.

A definition of non-formal education from UNESCO

Education that is institutionalized, intentional and planned by an education provider. The defining characteristic of non-formal education is that it is an addition, alternative and/or a complement to formal education within the process of the lifelong learning of individuals. It is often provided to guarantee the right of access to education for all. It caters for people of all ages, but does not necessarily apply a continuous pathway-structure; it may be short in duration and/or low intensity, and it is typically provided in the form of short courses, workshops or seminars. Non-formal education mostly leads to qualifications that are not recognized as formal qualifications by the relevant national educational authorities or to no qualifications at all. Non-formal education can cover programmes contributing to adult and youth literacy and education for out-of-school children, as well as programmes on life skills, work skills, and social or cultural development.

Source definition: ISCED 2011

Non-Formal Education is highly valued by the directors of Ascendimo and they support this website and other non-formal education initiatives because they have experienced how it can:

  • Activate career opportunities

  • Be recognised within formal education

  • Contribute to stronger communities

  • Develop personal learning and growth via alternate pathways

  • Enable the progression and growth of organisations