Formal, informal and non-formal learning

Formal learning [1] typically takes place in educational and training institutions, and is completed with a certificate, diploma or qualification recognised by the state. This type of learning is structured in terms of learning goals, learning period and support, and is intentional on the learner’s part. It is offered in the framework of primary, secondary and tertiary school systems.
Non-formal learning is offered by adult training and cultural institutions, employers or NGOs in an organized form, complementing the systems of primary education and training, and is usually not completed with an official certificate. The background of this form of learning is not exclusively provided by an educational or training institution, and which does not typically lead to qualifications; it is nevertheless structured in terms of learning goals, period or support. Non-formal learning is an activity which the learner consciously decides to undertake.
Informal learning [2] is a natural part of our everyday life. Contrary to formal and non-formal learning, informal learning is not necessarily a conscious learning activity, and the individuals may not necessarily recognize how their knowledge and skills have been enriched.


[1] Recommendation of the European Council on life-long learning (Council Resolution of 27 June 2002 on lifelong learning. Official Journal C 163, 09/07/2002 P. 0001 – 0003); Arapovics 2011.
[2] Koncz, G. – Németh, J. – Szabó, I. (eds.) 2007 Közművelődési fogalomtár. [A glossary of terms for community culture]. Ministry of Education and Culture

This article based on the following document: Community development methodological guide