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Non-formal learning

Last update : 15.12.2023


Acquisition of knowledge, know-how, information, values, skills and competences in the framework of planned activities – in terms of learning objectives, time or resources – where some form of learning support is present (e.g. student-teacher/trainer relationships).


  • Non-formal learning is intentional from the learner’s point of view;
  • it may cover programmes to impart work skills, adult literacy and basic education for early school leavers; very common cases of non-formal learning include in-company training, through which companies update and improve the skills of their workers such as ICT skills, structured on-line learning (e.g. by making use of open educational resources), and courses organised by civil society organisations for their members, their target group or the general public;
  • outcomes of non-formal learning may be validated and may lead to certification;
  • non-formal learning is sometimes described as semi-structured learning;
  • this term is close to, but not synonymous with: informal learning.

Source: Cedefop (2023) "Terminology of European education and training policy: A selection of key terms"