The Guide

Theories – of non-formal education

Non-formal education became part of the international discourse on education policy in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It can be seen as related to the concepts of recurrent and lifelong learning ( Whereas the non-formal education have to do with the extension of education and learning throughout life, non-formal education is about „acknowledging the importance of education, learning and training which takes place outside recognized educational institutions” (Tight, 1996; source:

The differences between formal, informal and non-foral in the educational meaning was best defined in the work of Combs with Prosser and Ahmed (1973):

Formal education: the hierarchically structured, chronologically graded ‘education system’, running from primary school through the university and including, in addition to general academic studies, a variety of specialized programs and institutions for full-time technical and professional training.

  •  Informal education: the truly lifelong process whereby every individual acquires attitudes, values, skills and knowledge from daily experience and the educative influences and resources in his or her environment – from family and neighbors, from work and play, from the market place, the library and the mass media.
  • Non-formal education: any organized educational activity outside the established formal system – whether operating separately or as an important feature of some broader activity – that is intended to serve identifiable learning clienteles and learning objectives.

The legitimacy of schools is based upon their role as credentialing agencies while non- formal education will derive its legitimacy only from its ability to meet real social needs. (Ward, 1974).

“Gradual introduction of non-formal elements into a formal structure - requires the interest and the availability of a formal institution and of qualified personnel willing to work in that program. On this head, the faculty of the institution could and should be the movers of this process. They could be trained for this task by technical teams of non-formal institutions and so acquire the body of knowledge needed to perform in the field of non-formal strategies, in the preparation of self-instruction materials - texts, audio and videotapes, exercises, and so on - study guides, assessment and follow-up materials, among others. Thus, the organization of non-formal institutions serves two purposes at once, namely  (a) - to create and implement non-formal courses and programmes; and,  (b) - to assist formal institutions in their gradual transition to the non-formal model.” (Zaki Dib, 1987, Source:

As specificity, non-formal education is based on the process, trainer is a process facilitator and designing, planning and facilitation of the process is most important part of the educational act.

Another specificity of non-formal education is basement of it on the life experience on participants. Experiential pedagogy which is better fitting with non-formal education has two major working principles which are governing non-formal education:

Spiral of learning through experience – EAG model of learning through personal experience propose to us to have a personal experience (E), to analyze that experience (A) in terms of personal feelings, thoughts and actions; and, finally to generalize (G) in terms of personal learning and aspects of personal learning’s which can be applied in professional live in order to improve it.

Learning space – it is a area situated at the limit between comfort zone and panic zone, and combined with a safe learning environment it can generate premises for personal development. Experiential pedagogy is postulated that learning process (personal development process) require living the comfort zone but going in a panic zone is also unproductive  for personal development.

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