Formal or non-formal education?

The type of training that takes place in a Farmer Field School is often referred to as “non-formal adult education”. What is the difference between formal and non-formal education?

Formal Education* Non-formal Education
  • Teacher
  • Teacher is the center of instruction
  • Information ‘push’ (teacher decides what trainees are being taught)
  • Teacher is responsible to deliver contents from the curriculum
  • Teacher has to prepare all sessions
  • Teacher forced into being ‘expert’
  • Teacher lectures trainees.
  • Trainees are passive receivers of information
  • Facilitator
  • Participants can give inputs
  • Information ‘pull’ (focus on actual information needs)
  • Facilitator ensures that participants learn basic contents and involves participants to determine additional learning goals
  • Informal, open exchange; equal chance to participate
  • Active cooperation and collaboration from all participants
  • Facilitator is a group member
  • Facilitator can use inputs of the group
  • Questions from the group can be answered BY the group (discussion/sharing of experiences, setting up experiments, inviting resource persons, etc.)
  • Working in small groups
  • Facilitator stimulates critical thinking.

* Modern “formal education” is increasingly using some of the non-formal facilitation skills, placing more emphasis on working in small groups, and stimulating critical thinking and active involvement by the trainees.

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