The main principle of Erasmus plus programme is non-formal learning. Education plays an important role in development. Out of school programmes are important to provide adaptable learning opportunities and new skills and knowledge to a large percentage of people who are beyond the reach of formal education. Non-formal education began to gain popularity in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Today, non-formal education is seen as a concept of recurrent and lifelong learning.
Definition of non-formal learning:
By the European Knowledge Centre for Youth Policy non-formal learning is described as: “Purposive but voluntary learning that takes place in a diverse range of environments and situations for which teaching/training and learning is not necessarily their sole or main activity. These environments and situations may be intermittent or transitory, and the activities or courses that take place may be staffed by professional learning facilitators (such as youth trainers) or by volunteers (such as youth leaders). The activities and courses are planned, but are seldom structured by conventional rhythms or curriculum subjects. They usually address specific target groups, but rarely document or assess learning outcomes or achievements in conventionally visible ways.”
The difference between Formal, Non-formal and Informal education
Formal education: the hierarchically structured, chronologically graded ‘education system’, running from primary school through the university and including, in addition to general academic studies, a variety of specialized programmes and institutions for full-time technical and professional training.
Informal education: the truly lifelong process whereby every individual acquires attitudes, values, skills and knowledge from daily experience and the educative influences and resources in his or her environment – from family and neighbors, from work and play, from the market place, the library and the mass media.
Non-Formal Education: any organized educational activity outside the established formal system – whether operating separately or as an important feature of some broader activity – that is intended to serve identifiable learning clienteles and learning objectives.
Recognition of non-formal learning:
Youthpass is a tool to document and recognize learning outcomes from youth work activities. It is available for projects funded by Erasmus+: Youth in Action (2014-2020) and Youth in Action (2007-2013) programmes. It is a part of the European Commission’s strategy to foster the recognition of non-formal learning. While creating their Youthpass certificate, project participants are given the possibility to describe which competences they have acquired. Moreover, Youthpass strengthens the social recognition of youth work, supports active European citizenship an also helps with employability of young people.