Education refers to the process of facilitating the acquisition of new knowledge, skills, moral values, beliefs, habits, learning, and personal development. Education is compulsory for individuals of a certain age in many countries. Educational methods consist of teaching, learning, training, discussion, directed research, storytelling, and more.

Education is an individual’s dynamic force and plays a highly influential role in a person’s mental, emotional, social, physical, creative, spiritual, and ethical development. It helps an individual to go through various experiences and implement these experiences in creating a meaningful life. According to John Dewey,

“Education is the development of all those capacities in the individual which will enable him to control his environment and fulfill his responsibilities.”

The difference between formal, non-formal, and informal education is as follows:

Formal education

  1. Educational Institution: Formal education takes place routinely in an academic institution such as a school or college.
  2. Graded: Formal education takes place grade-wise. After every academic session, learners are promoted to a new grade if they perform well.
  3. Structured: Formal education follows a structured schedule that takes place every weekday. According to this, the teaching-learning process is administered.
  4. Hierarchical: Formal education takes place according to a hierarchy where learners process from the basics of knowledge to the more complex lessons and subjects.
  5. Rigid: Unlike informal schooling, formal education is not flexible. They follow a strict and rigid routine every day to ensure the proper flow of education.

Non-formal education

  1. Absence of Formal Institution: In non-formal education, there is no presence of a formal institution or system such as a school or college.
  2. Short term: Unlike formal education, the learning in non-formal education takes place on a short-term basis.
  3. Individual centered: In non-formal education, the learning can be centered and focused on an individual. Their learning capacity is taken into account and education is administered accordingly.
  4. Practical: Learning in non-formal education takes place outside of the classroom due to which it is more practical.
  5. Flexible: Unlike formal education, the schedule of non-formal education is not rigid. Learners can follow a flexible routine that suits their convenience.

Informal education

  1. Non-targeted: Informal education administers education that is not targeted towards achieving any specific skill or certification.
  2. Natural Occurrence: Informal education may take place naturally. For instance, learners may travel to a new country and learn about their culture and lifestyle.
  3. Real-life experiences: The main resource of education in informal education is real-life experiences. It enables individuals to learn new skills and knowledge through the activities they perform in everyday life.
  4. Outside School Environment: Learning in informal education takes place outside an academic institution such as a school or college.
  5. Flexible: Learners are free to learn any subject or skills they want to learn. They are not restricted to learning any specific subject.

These are the essential factors that differentiate formal education, non-formal education, and informal education.

Formal EducationNon-formal EducationInformal education
Educational InstitutionAbsence of Formal InstitutionNon-targeted
GradedShort termNatural Occurrence
Structural Individual centeredReal-life experiences
Hierarchical PracticalOutside School Environment
Differentiate Formal Non-Formal and Informal Education from Each Other in Terms of Administration
Differentiate Formal Non-Formal and Informal Education from Each Other in Terms of Administration
Differentiate Formal Non-Formal and Informal Education from Each Other in Terms of Administration