What are the benefits of informal education

Formal and non-formal education

Which is the best way to involve the participants and structure an educational process largely depends on the learning context [quote]. Depending on whether you are working in a formal, informal or non-formal educational context, you have more or less freedom with regard to the content, the time structure and the activities. The methods and exercises described in this manual are so flexible that they can be used in a wide variety of situations: in youth clubs as well as in schools, summer camps or informal gatherings [quote].

Informal education refers to lifelong learning processes in which people acquire attitudes, values, skills and knowledge through influences and sources of their own environment and adopt them from daily experience (family, neighbors, marketplace, library, mass media, work, play, etc.).

Formal education refers to the state education system from elementary school to university. This also includes special technical and vocational training programs. Formal education is often referred to in German as school education.

Non-formal education refers to any personal and social education program for young people planned outside the formal curriculum to improve specific skills and competencies. The term extracurricular education has also established itself in German-speaking countries.

Non-formal education as practiced in youth work and by many youth organizations and groups:

  • is voluntary, holistic and process-oriented
  • is accessible to everyone (ideally)
  • is an organized process with educational goals
  • is participative and learner-centered
  • is based on experience and action and starts with the needs of the learner
  • teaches life skills and prepares learners for their role as active citizens
  • includes both individual and group learning

Formal, non-formal and informal education complement each other and mutually reinforce the lifelong learning process. KOMPASS was not designed as a 'course', but the individual activities can be used for very different contexts, in more or less formal surroundings, on a regular or irregular basis.


“Education is what is left over when you forget what you have learned. "

B. F. Skinner

“Learning [is] ... a process that does not only take place in school or in other organized educational settings. This learning concept is based on the thought and observation that numerous important learning experiences are made outside of the formal education system: at work, in the family, in various organizations, in libraries ... "

Dr. Pasi Sahlberg in Building Bridges for Learning - The Recognition and Value
of Non-Formal Education in Youth Activity, a 1999 study