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TVETipedia Glossary

Find and compare definitions of key terms in TVET


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Informal learning

Forms of learning that are intentional or deliberate but are not institutionalized. They are less organized and structured than either formal or non-formal education. Informal learning may include learning activities that occur in the family, in the work place, in the local community, and in daily life, on a self-directed, family-directed or socially-directed basis.

UIS, ISCED 2011 (International Standard Classification of Education), 2012

Informal learning is learning that occurs in daily life, in the family, in the workplace, in communities and through interests and activities of individuals. Through the recognition, validation and accreditation process, competences gained in informal learning can be made visible, and can contribute to qualifications and other recognitions. In some cases, the term experiential learning is used to refer to informal learning that focuses on learning from experience.

UIL, UNESCO GUIDELINES for the Recognition, Validation and Accreditation of the Outcomes of Non-formal and Informal Learning, 2012

Acquisition of knowledge, know-how, information, values, skills and competences in the framework of daily activities – work, family or leisure – which are not explicitly designated as learning activities in terms of objectives, time or learning support.


  • Informal learning may be unintentional from the learner’s perspective;
  • the outcome of informal learning may be validated and certified;
  • informal learning is also referred to as experiential or incidental/random learning;
  • this term is close to, but not synonymous with: non-formal learning.
Cedefop, Glossary. Terminology of European education and training policy, (accessed 03/2023)

Learning that results from daily activities related to paid or unpaid work, family or community life, or leisure.

SAQA (South Africa), TVET Standard Glossary of Terms, 2013

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