Readings, videos and audios on Nonformal Education (non-formal education, NFE, community education, community learning, or social pedagogy)


This strand of our discussion is focused on useful reading, video and audio materials about nonformal education.  I'll offer one below, but perhaps you would like to reply with suggestions of others.

What is non-formal education?

Although the context for this article is nonformal education in developing countries, not particularly in the U.S., here are several interesting ideas to consider:

1) Fordham (1993) suggests that in the 1970s, four characteristics came be associated with non-formal education:

  • Relevance to the needs of disadvantaged groups.
  • Concern with specific categories of person.
  • A focus on clearly defined purposes.
  • Flexibility in organization and methods.

2) Formal education systems adapt too slowly to meet socio-economic needs. Nonformal education can respond more quickly to community members' needs.

3) The distinction between formal and nonformal education is largely administrative. Formal education is linked with schools and training institutions; non-formal with community groups and other organizations

4) A range of kinds of programs: They include literacy and basic education for adults and young people, political and trade union education, ‘catching-up’ programmes for school drop outs, pre-school education for young children, political and trade union education and various kinds of educational work linked with development initiatives including agricultural extension and training programmes and health education. They also shade over into various examples of both state and private vocational training programmes.

5) Some possible characteristics of nonformal education:

  • short-term
  • non-credential based
  • learner-determined entry requirements
  • flexible
  • learner-centered
  • bottom-up rather than top-down, i.e. built on the interests of learners, not of institutions, business or government agencies,with significant participation of learners in decision-making

David J. Rosen