Education is an important investment in an individual's as it will serve many purposes in a person's life than attaining the necessary educational and professional qualifications. This article will look at the three types of education, noting the differences that exist in each type and the purposes they serve.
In the current era we're living, education is an important investment a parent can make for his/her child or an adult can make for him/herself. Nearly all occupations in the job market require a person to have studied for a particular course or gained the necessary professional (educational) qualification(s) to be employed in a particular job.
Nonetheless, education is not only meant to serve as an avenue to get employment. There is much more to education than getting good grades. First and foremost, education is meant to impart a child with knowledge and skills. This will not only help the child in academic studies but will equip the child with skills on how to cope with problems or how to solve a particular problem which isn't related to academic studies.
Education, as we shall see, is not limited inside the four walls of a classroom. In itself, it doesn't fully serve its purpose.
It extends beyond the class. What a child learns in the society, through observation, reading books, watching films and what he/she is taught by adults and/or caregivers in the society models the child in either being a positive contributor in the society or a troublemaker.
Thus, we will look at the types of education, and how each type serves its purpose. It will be evident there are diverse ways an individual can gain the necessary knowledge and skills.
1. Formal Education
Formal education is a type of learning that takes place in classrooms. A pupil or student is taught by a qualified teacher or lecturer. It's not limited to primary and secondary schools. It extends to higher learning institutions, that is, colleges and universities.
Formal education requires schools and learning institutions to follow the curriculum which has been set by the relevant institution in the Ministry of Education. Teachers and lecturers have to adhere to the syllabus provided by the government for each subject or unit that is taught in school/university.
As noted above, the pupils or students have to be taught by a qualified teacher/lecturer who has studied for a subject(s) he/she wants to teach or which he/she teaches.
At the end of term or semester, the pupils or students are required to sit for exams. How a pupil or student performs in the yearly exams or end of semester exams determines whether he/she will be allowed to progress to a higher class or resit the examinations he/she failed. At the end of the primary, secondary or university learning a student is awarded a certificate or degree which is authorised and recognized by the government.
2. Non-formal Education
Non-formal education may share some attributes of formal education. The education provider, learning institution, may use the government's curriculum as a guide or they may come up with their own curriculum.
UNESCO notes, "The defining characteristics of non-formal education is that it is an addition, alternative and/or a complement to formal education within the process of the lifelong learning of individuals... Non-formal education mostly leads to qualifications that are not recognized as formal qualifications by the relevant national educational authorities or to no qualifications at all."
Learning through this mode of education takes place when an individual attends a seminar or workshop or studies for courses either through attending classes or opting to study through other means of learning e.g. distance and online learning. It caters for individuals of all ages and different backgrounds.
It is through non-formal education that individuals who failed in examinations, dropped out of school or don't have the required qualification to get an employment can benefit from learning in this type of education.
Home education is an example of non-formal education. Another example to illustrate this type of education is a qualified person who decides to teach a certain job skill to inmates. The individual might teach inmates who are interested in how to make different types of furniture, or teaching them how to speak and write English. When an inmate completes his sentence term, he/she will come out of the prison having learned a skill which will prove valuable as he/she adjusts in the society.
3. Informal Education
This type of education does not follow a specific method of learning or instruction. It takes place outside of school and an individual can learn anywhere. A child can gain knowledge or learn different skills anywhere, sometimes without being taught by an adult, whether qualified or not.
For instance, a child might be taught by his father how to play a baseball or by his mother how to cook a certain meal.
A child isn't required to be taught by a qualified person as shown in the above example. There is no set curriculum or syllabus an adult needs to follow to teach a child. What's more, in this type of education any adult can become a teacher to the child. The teacher is someone who has knowledge on a certain subject or experience in something which he/she can teach the child.
This type of education leans more on the practical side than the theory one. This is based on the fact the child is taught for a short time because he/she is expected to become knowledgeable in something in a matter of hours. A father teaching his child how to play a piano will not concentrate so much on the theory part. What the father wants from his child is for the child to learn how to play piano as quickly as possible.
There's no timetable to follow and the learner is not taught in a structured manner.
Not to be dismissed as an unimportant type of education, without informal education societies would be raising up individuals who are educated or have knowledge but don't know how to make use of it. Much of the values and good morals come from informal education. Rarely will formal and non-formal education concentrate on instilling children with values and good morals than on working on how to complete a syllabus on prescribed time.
A good example to illustrate informal education is whereby a mother teaches her expectant daughter how to take care of the pregnancy, what to eat and which foods and drinks to avoid. Additionally when her daughter delivers safely and is living with her, she teaches her how to breastfeed the child, how to carry and bathe the child.
Becoming more employable is one of the most valuable things to do these days. It not only leads one to greater employability, but it also provides opportunities to gain valuable new skills.
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Education is the process by which learning is facilitated. Hence it would be appropriate to keep the improvement in learner’s capacity at the center of education and all policies governing it.