What is Non-Formal Learning?

We discussed about formal learning in our previous segment, and I mentioned that formal learning is generally learning that occurs in a formal setting (within an institution, with a structured curriculum, and measurable outcomes, leading to some form of recognised certification).

Lifelong Learning

Non-formal learning is similar to this, but has its differences.  Non-formal learning also generally occurs in a formal setting (e.g. institution or workshop).  What is different is the curriculum, which might be less structured as compared to formal learning.  And in non-formal learning, the outcome(s) does not lead to recognised certification.  For example, you might attend a swimming course conducted by a swimming school.  It is a rigorous training regime, in a formalised setting.  However, there might not be any certification to it.  Or you attended a night class on floristry, or some professional development programme.  You definitely would be able to learn some knowledge or skills, but the fact that they are not certifiable, or recognised, makes them non-formal in nature.

So, is non-formal less important than formal learning?  Well, it depends on whether the value is on the certification, or on the learning.  If your profession requires proof of learning through certification, then non-formal learning would be less significant.  However, in many workplaces, the ability to perform is more important than certification, non-formal learning becomes critical.  As some people put it, ‘the proof of the pudding is in the eating’.  Hence, which ever means, as long as a person can perform the roles required of him in the workplace, he would have successfully learned.

Now, how can non-formal learning impact your employability?

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