Informal and Non-Formal Learning

Informal and non-formal learning is not only delivered by main-stream educational providers. All kind of social organisations and self organised entities may also deal with “informal learning” – and may not even be aware of it.
Thus informal and non-formal learning is a rather ambivalent topic: On the one hand, it is highly recognised by educational experts, on the other hand, there is not much consciousness about the value in the field and – as consequence – there are relatively few and rather scattered approaches to give evidence of this important way of learning.
This is the reason why “Validating of informal and non-formal learning” is currently one of the top priorities on the educational agenda of the European Commission.
However there are major systematic obstacles to validating informal and non-formal learning, since the uncountable variety of learning contexts, contents and the lack of specified learning objectives are limiting a standardised evaluation.
One should also keep in mind that the goals of educational administration and funding bodies in regard to validation of informal and non-formal learning (->standards) do not necessarily match with those of the experts working in the field, e.g. in grass-root projects (->individualism).
These fundamental target conflicts have to be considered when evaluating “informal and non-formal learning learning” especially in order to secure that it may serve those target groups that are already disadvantaged in the formal education system.