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Non-formal education (NFE)

Parent term: Education

Education that is institutionalized, intentional and planned by an education provider. The defining characteristic of non-formal education is that it is an addition, alternative and/or a complement to formal education within the process of the lifelong learning of individuals. It is often provided to guarantee the right of access to education for all. It caters for people of all ages, but does not necessarily apply a continuous pathway-structure; it may be short in duration and/or low intensity, and it is typically provided in the form of short courses, workshops or seminars. Non-formal education mostly leads to qualifications that are not recognized as formal qualifications by the relevant national educational authorities or to no qualifications at all. Non-formal education can cover programmes contributing to adult and youth literacy and education for out-of-school children, as well as programmes on life skills, work skills, and social or cultural development.
Source: UNESCO UIS 2013, Global
Education which takes place outside the formal system on either a regular or an intermittent basis.
Source: UNESCO 1984, Global
Organised and systematic learning activity conducted outside the formal education system.
Source: ILO 2006, Global
Learning which is embedded in planned activities not explicitly designated as learning (in terms of learning objectives, learning time or learning support). Non-formal learning is intentional from the learner’s point of view.
Source: CEDEFOP 2008, Europe
Any organised and sustained educational activity that does not correspond exactly to the definition of formal education. Non-formal education may therefore take place both within and outside educational institutions, and cater to persons of all ages.
Source: NCVER 2013, Australia
Any organized educational activity and training outside the established formal system, that is, intended for specific objectives and to serve identifiable clientele.
Source: TESDA 2010, Philippines
Non formal education and training: Learning embedded in planned activities that are not explicitly designated as learning, but which contain an important learning element.
Source: UNEVOC/NCVER 2009, Global
Non-formal education and training is understood as education and training leading to qualifications which are not directly recognised as such by relevant national education authorities (or equivalent authorities) or not leading to any qualifications at all (although recognition and validation of learning outcomes could then be used and indirectly lead to formal qualifications). This concept is therefore distinguished from formal education and training, which: (a) typically takes place in (or, in the case of formal apprenticeships, dually involve) the system of schools, colleges and universities and other formal education institutions; (b) normally, although not necessarily, constitutes a continuous ladder of education for children and young people; (c) is directly relevant for the determination of the highest level of formal education attained. It is also distinguished from random and informal learning which are not intentional and/or not institutionalised.
Source: CEDEFOP (Job learning) 2015, Europe
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Related terms
 Formal education and training



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