TOPIC 1: What is a non-formal education?

TOPIC 1: What is a non-formal education?

During the preparation of educational activities aimed at the community gardens and the community itself, it is important to develop certain teaching skills which are essential for learning, work set-up and active participation. In this topic we will define three categories of education. The focus will be on a non-formal education which is a helpful tool in these processes. The key is to remember that we might be working with participants who understand non-formal education differently. They might consider non-formal education as a wide range of educational approaches and may draw information from other sources. It is therefore useful to be clear that we are only talking about one category of a non-formal education.

Non-formal Education

A relatively new concept dates back to 1968, when Coombs first started talking about non-formal education, which has emerged from the gaps of a failing educational system. “Non-formal education can be any educational activity, which is organised, systematic & carried out on the outside of the framework of the formal educational system. Its aim is to provide selected types of learning to particular subgroups in the population – adults as well as children.” (Coombs and Ahmed, 1974, p. 8)

Formal Education

Formal education is any kind of education that is institutionalised, intentional and planned through public organisations. It is also recognised by private bodies and, in their totality, make up the formal educational system of a country. (ISCED, 2011)

Informal Education

“Forms of learning that are intentional or deliberate, but are not institutionalised are considered as informal education. They are consequently less organised and structured than either, formal or non-formal education. Informal learning may include learning activities that occur in the family, workplace, local community and daily life – on a self-directed, family-directed or socially-directed basis.” Examples of informal education include: a father correcting their child’s grammar, a colleague helping their coworker or a senior executive serving as a mentor for a junior employee.

Types of learning. Source: Milisav Milinkovic, Gianluca Massimiliano Frongia, Tsvetina Zaharlieva. MANUAL FOR ONLINE LEARNING IN NON-FORMAL EDUCATION, 2020, p. 8

The principles of a non-formal learning in community garden activities can be based on multiple factors:

  • voluntary character of learning;
  • designed to improve a range of soft and hard skills and competences;
  • inner motivation of the learner;
  • participatory and learner-centered approach;
  • close link to community garden’s aspirations and interests;
  • diverse evaluation process with elements of self-evaluation, collective/group evaluation without judgement on individual success or failure giving the learner the “right to make mistakes” and “learn by doing and trying”
  • supportive environment of trainers/facilitators and/or youth workers;
  • sharing and multiplication of results and potential follow-up.

PEŠEK, Tomáš, Tibor ŠKRABSKÝ, Monika NOVOSÁDOVÁ and Jolana DOČKALOVÁ. Slabikář neformálního vzdělávání v práci s mládeží, 2019, p. 8

ISCED 2011, p. 80.

Milisav Milinkovic, Gianluca Massimiliano Frongia, Tsvetina Zaharlieva. MANUAL FOR ONLINE LEARNING IN NON-FORMAL EDUCATION, 2020, p. 8, p. 11