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What is non-formal education and why is it important?

We believe in non-formal education and learning through experience. But do you know what it’s all about? Do you understand its importance? Throughout this post, we’ll give you a little introduction about non-formal education and we’ll show you the benefits of activities like exchanges. Keep on reading!

Differences between formal, informal and non-formal education

The term “non-formal education” and its recognition on a global scale came about in the 1960s, when consolidated educational institutions had to face an economic crisis and received questions about their lacking ability to adapt to a new society.

UNESCO held various summits led by expert, Philip H. Coombs, to confront the crisis and propose solutions. This resulted in the publication of Learning to Be (The Faure Report, UNESCO 1972), where they paved the way to the future of education.

It wasn’t until 1973 that Philip H. Coombs, Prosser and Ahmed established definitions of formal, informal and non-formal education:

· Formal education has a hierarchical structure, organized in chronological order within the education system. It starts in primary school and ends in university. Moreover, it includes programmes or courses dedicated to technical and professional education.

·Informal education is the vital process whereby every individual acquires attitudes, values, skills, and knowledge. These are gained through daily experiences and from influences or resources in your surroundings, whether it’s from your family and friends or from the media.

· Non-formal education is all organized education activities that are outside the formally established system. It can work separately or within a larger activity, according to the participants or learning goals.

Characteristics and importance of non-formal education

Non-formal education isn’t a replacement to formal education, which is key and fundamental to the growth of the person, however, it can complement it by covering needs or certain aspects that the regulated institution lack.

UNESCO, for example, emphasizes the flexibility of non-formal education and how it allows for more personalized learning to be developed for each person. In fact, this would be the most ideal model for them.

How is it flexible? Non-formal education is open to any age, origin, and personal interest. Moreover, it’s a relatively voluntary type of education, with diverse teaching methods and its end goal isn’t a degree, but rather pure learning.

This idea is key for Jimmy Wales, for example. The founder of Wikipedia is one of this biggest defenders of non-formal and informal education. He insists on continuous learning throughout life in a voluntary and experiential way to create better citizens. 

Via non-formal and informal education, which have a great advantage thanks to modern technology, we can understand the world around us much better. Above all, everything we discover will stay embedded in our brains, because we’ve had our own drive to learn.

That said, the benefits of non-formal education can be summarized as follows:

·  Helps grow and mature, on a personal level, as well as within society. In many cases, teamwork or coexisting, can play an important role.

·  By developing the skills of each individual, you boost their self-esteem.

· The capacity to learn and discover on your own develops a healthy critical attitude of your surroundings, social norms, and power mechanisms.

·   Boosts job placement opportunities and encourages self-employment.

Now that you have a better understanding of non-formal education and its learning possibilities via experience, wouldn’t you agree that it’s pretty important?

We encourage you to incorporate exchanges as a way of conducting non-formal education and offer your students or members an enriching experience on many levels.

In addition to the act itself, the exchange, which may focus on anything from music to sport, style, or gastronomy, participants are outside their habitual surroundings and are forced to face new situations.

We believe in exchanges that go above and beyond just learning a language. And an exchange on a national level is just as enriching as one done abroad. The reason? Because throughout the activity you learn about the place and the people you meet, but you also acquire new tools to help you in your day-to-day routine or to establish valuable social connections.

After an exchange, you’ll carry with you forever all these aspects of learning, and all the skills and knowledge you’ve acquired. So, if you’re interested or have any doubts, get in touch with us. We’ll be happy to assist you!

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