Formal and Non – formal education
Long-term and deep learning includes breaking down, connecting ideas, and building connections between previous and new knowledge, developing independence and critical thinking, and the opportunity to apply knowledge in new and different contexts. With education is offered a process of acquiring general knowledge, development of thinking skills, assessment, or in other words intellectual preparation of the learner for a full life.
General education is formal education. This consists of a hierarchically structured and chronologically follow-up educational program studied from primary school to university. Formal education depends on academic research and the variety of specialized programs and courses that aim at comprehensive vocational training and personal development.
Further education is non-formal education. This type of education is usually used outside the formal education system with the main goal of developing the knowledge, skills, and attitudes of participants that they need for everyday life and/or in a certain type of field; as a type of learning model, it is considered more flexible and oriented to the needs, opportunities and interests in learning.
Table 1: Models of formal and non-formal learning
|Formal education||Non- formal education|
|Goal||* A long-term and common (overall) goal that a state is obliged to provide to its citizens for the normal course of their lives.
* Compulsory and certified training in accredited institutions.
|* Short-term and specific goal, compensating for gaps in the goals of formal education.
* Acquisition of competencies for a shorter period of time, regardless of their certification.
* What follows is market demand and the needs that gaps in formal education create for citizens.
|Timeframe||* Long-term training cycle with mandatory and optional training stages.
* Divided into age educational stages.
|* Short training cycle with often repetitive short-term and intensive learning.
* It can be fragmented over time and does not depend on age.
|Content||* Standardized and concentrated around common to all criteria.
* The level determines who the students will be in the group.
* There are entry requirements at each stage set by the state.
|* Individualized and result oriented.
* Practical – concentrated around a certain knowledge, skill or attitude.
* Follows the interests / needs / of the learner.
* Allows for a short time to absorb a large amount of knowledge.
* There are no entrance requirements, except for those set by a trainer and a trainee.
|Transmission method (system)||* Institutionally based; often isolated from the real environment and the community.
* Clear structure in the same group of students.
* Centered around the teacher’s abilities.
* Specific resources are used.
|* Based on the environment and the community as resources.
* Flexible and with different random groups of learners.
* It follows principles such as:
1. Experiential learning;
|Control||* External to the learner (imposed) and hierarchical.
* In line with international models such as PISA.
* Based on teacher accreditation systems.
|* Self-government and Democracy.
* Feedback from the learner and his community.
* Voluntary participation of the learner and the trainer.
* Verification of skills outside the formal system.
|Who is it suitable for?||* Any age.
* Mandatory up to 16 years.
|* Any age, depending on the attitude of the learner – lifelong learning.
* The only option for older people who have already left the educational system
|Who delivers it?||* Certified and institutionalized schools.
* Vocational training centers
|* Non- governmental organizations – NGOs
* Youth centers (spaces) and community centers.
* Non-certified suppliers
How do formal and non-formal education help learning?
Success in today’s global economy relies on our adaptation to an ever-changing environment. This requires us to focus on the processing of variable knowledge: finding information, understanding it, thinking about knowledge, using it in context and creating new one as well as new skills and attitudes. Formal education relies mostly on understanding and a little on skills, but less on attitudes. Non-formal education takes place mostly outside institutionalized schools, giving learning (holistic and integrated in the individual) completeness.
Non-formal education allows to pay more attention to the individual needs of the learner, as well as a wider field for practical training and further development of competencies, accumulating in a formal environment. It helps to build communities of interest, to develop emotional intelligence and to take responsibility for the personal process of self-improvement, building attitudes in the long run. Voluntary participation, the development of decision-making skills and the building of social connections lead to an increase in the self-confidence of the participants, and hence their overall educational performance.
Is there a legal framework? Is there a need for one?
Bulgaria ranks last in the European Union in terms of overall results of students up to 15 years old of the international PISA test conducted by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Following the latest data from PISA for Bulgaria, we can conclude that in Bulgaria we need, in addition to improving policies, developing formal education, and certification of non-formal education, which in combination with formal education leads to a more literate, more developed and successful society. Last but not least, attention should be paid to non-formal education providers – their professional training and opportunities to provide quality service, because such regulation does not currently exist.