“Organized and sustained activities that take place both within and outside education institutions. Depending on country contexts, it may cover adult literacy, basic education for out-of-school children, life skills, work skills, and general culture. Non-formal education programmes do not necessarily follow the ‘ladder’ system, may have differing durations, and may or may not confer certification.”
On the upside…
• Many participants commented that non-formal education is an important part of their overall education, because it allows young people to acquire skills they would not normally access through formal education. Therefore, it is important for two reasons:
1) It “strengthens the skills of people who have been marginalized from formal education” (said Charles, a young African); and
2) It offers a different set of skills which are not provided through formal channels (Lauren, a young Latin American).
• One participant, Yasmyn, 24, from Guadeloupe commented that practicing cultural activities is also a good way of receiving informal education. She cited the example of attending traditional dances. This experience has benefited her in two ways:
1) Teaching her about the history of her country; and
2) Strengthening her transferable life skills in perseverance: “these skills are really helping me now that I’m looking for an internship,” she reports.
• For Ayshah, 26, from Kenya, her informal education has been through participating in seminars and trainings with young people who have a different background than hers, such as drug users.
On the down side…
• According to some participants, non-formal education is not valued or recognized by some employers.
• In addition, Daniel, 28, from Switzerland and the United Kingdom and a member of the United Nations Youth Association Network (UNYANET), shared with us that:
“Non‐formal education is important, but it sometimes lacks the option to actually prove what you have learned. This is connected to volunteering… if you learn how to organize a panel discussion for your association, by someone who has done it already, you will be able to organize it, but you will not be able to actually prove it - besides adding the ‘flyer’ to your application.”
We are reminded that opportunities do exist to access non-formal education…
Angelica, with TDM 2000 International (a network of European youth organizations), told us:
“I would like to say that the European Union every year spends millions of euros in support of the education (formal and non-formal) and training of youth. There are many programmes, from Youth in Action to Life-Long Learning and to Erasmus for young entrepreneurs, and many, many more, that support financially the personal and professional development of young people. All of them are based on intercultural learning. I am not talking about the usual trainings in classrooms with teachers or experts – sure, you can find these as well – but mainly they are based on non-formal education, which is a well-established methodology that supports the learning of people of every age.”