What is Education ?

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The word Education is derived from the Latin word “Educare. Education is wherein one may be taught, trained and guided to acquire knowledge, skill and understanding through practical experience. It is a process which brings positive changes in the human life and behavior. It is the basic means by which people come to know and acquire culture. It also encourages intellectual curiosity, which leads to lifelong learning.

Types of Education: Formal, Informal and Non-formal

1. Formal Education

Formal education is the one which is provided inside the classroom by trained teachers. It is the knowledge or skill obtained by a learning process. So colleges, schools, even home schooling programs count as formal education. Formal education is a formal and systematic approach to education. Formal education has an end goal. Formal education encompasses primary, lower and upper secondary education, higher and university education. Formal education is structured according to educational arrangements such as curriculam, qualifications and teaching-learning requirements.

Each educational institution has its own purpose. Education is received through direct instructions, tuition and schooling. Formal education is usually organised as full – time education and is organised as a continuous process with defined stages. Formal education consists mostly of initial education. We all encounter this type of education in schools, universities and other institutions in the education system. It has a time frame and strict regulations. Formal education relies on a systematic and well-defined curriculum. The curriculum is created with particular objectives in mind. The objectives are usually set by the government. In formal education each educational institution has limited time to teach you a set amount of things. It cannot be changed or prolonged. For example, if secondary school lasts six years, you cannot stretch it into seven.

It is official, structured, organised by public organisations or recognised private institutions and results with formal certification and formal level of qualification which is recognised by relevant national educational authorities, that culminate in the achievement of a degree or a professional qualification or diploma or a recognised certification as well as adult education programmes. In formal education, teachers need to be specially qualified and to give efficient instructions. Formal education institutions instill strict discipline on the students. Both the teacher and the student realize that they are engaged in the education process and both know their duties.

2. Informal Education

Informal education is one which occurs in daily life may be outside the classroom, in after-school programs, community-based organisations, museums, libraries, or at home through interest and activities of individuals. There is no organisation or institution behind informal education. Anyone can be a teacher, as well as anyone can be a student. People involved in informal education are usually very motivated to learn and to teach. For instance, a kid who could not beat a level in a videogame asks for advice from their peer who has already beaten the whole game. Both are obviously interested in the subject; one is eager to share their knowledge and the other wants to learn about the proper playing method. It works through conversation, and the exploration and enlargement of experience.

Informal education is the process through which a person gains knowledge outside of the strict confinements of formal education. Informal education is essential for children in their early years. Usually, no conscious effort is involved in the informal education. For example, a parent can use a real-life situation to teach their child a lesson, all in real time. It is spontaneous and incidental, it can happen anywhere and at any time. There are no strict regulations whatsoever. No timetables, no curriculums, no homework. Most of the learning happens through regular social interactions that are not confined to any set rules

Informal learning, lastly, is also developed whether or not there is a deliberate choice and is realised in the performance, by any person, of activities in everyday situations and interactions that take place in them, within the context of work, family and leisure, i.e. it is without external support and is not institutionalized. Despite not being recognized by many academics, the importance of informal education cannot be understated. Without it, we would not be able to function properly in society, or even function at all.

3. Non-formal
It refers to educational practices that are not a part of the formal or informal education. Non-formal education is the one that has been acquired in addition or alternatively to formal education. In some cases it is also structured according to educational and training arrangements, but more flexible. Usually it is flexible, learner-centered, contextualized and uses a participatory approach. Non-formal learning includes various structured learning situations, such as swimming sessions for toddlers, community-based sports programs and conference style seminars, which do not either have the level of curriculum, syllabus, accreditation and certification associated with ‘formal learning’.

Non-formal education can be full-time, as well as part time. Students are usually able to combine work and study with minimal losses. Non-formal education encourages discussion. Non – formal education is any type of structured and organised learning which is institutionalised, intentional and planned by an educational provider, but which does not lead to formal level of qualification recognised by the relevant national education authorities. People of all age groups can participate in non – formal education which can be offered through courses, workshops, seminars etc.

Non formal Education (NFE) is any organized educational activity that takes place outside the formal educational system. Usually it is flexible, learner-centered, contextualized and uses a participatory approach. There is no specific target group for NFE; it could be kids, youth or adults. Non-formal education encourages discussion. A person chooses what he wants to study and where, without any unnecessary lessons and courses. It might be free of charge or require additional costs.