FORMAL, NON-FORMAL AND INFORMAL EDUCATION: CONCEPTS/APPLICABILITY Claudio Zaki Dib Institute of Physics University of São Paulo, Brazil Presented at the “Interamerican Conference on Physics Education”, Oaxtepec, Mexico, 1987. Published in “Cooperative Networks in Physics Education - Conference Proceedings 173”, American Institute of Physics, New York, 1988, pgs. 300-315. ABSTRACT Educative system classification proposal, comprising formal, non-formal and informal education, their features and relations at the level of concepts and practical utilization is presented. Considering the problems arising from formal education, alternatives that displace the “center of gravity” from formal, to non-formal education processes are herein advanced, with regard to the advantages offered by the latter. The aspects relating to the creation of non-formal systems and their perspectives are also analyzed in the search for solutions to our current educational problems. INTRODUCTION In educational literature, the study of alternative education systems often mentions “open systems”, “non-formal education”, “distance learning”, “non-conventional studies”, among other terms. In some cases these are employed as synonyms, whereas in others, there is no agreement as to their meanings, making it impossible to reach a consensus for their concepts. A more precise definition of such concepts is fundamental, as is their possible classification, aimed at better understanding and practical utilization. We shall therefore analyze the concepts of formal, non-formal and informal education, in an attempt to define their features, advantages, limitations and inter-relations. FORMAL EDUCATION Formal education corresponds to a systematic, organized education model, structured and administered according to a given set of laws and norms, presenting a rather rigid curriculum as regards objectives, content and methodology. It is characterized by a contiguous education process named, as Sarramona1 remarks, “presential education”, which necessarily involves the teacher, the students and the institution. It corresponds to the education process normally adopted by our schools and universities. Formal education institutions are administratively, physically and curricularly organized and require from students a minimum classroom attendance. There is a program that teachers and students alike must observe, involving intermediate and final assessments in order to advance students to the next learning stage. It confers degrees and diplomas pursuant to a quite strict set of regulations. The methodology is basically expositive, scarcely relating to the desired behavioral objectives - as a matter of fact, it is but seldom that such targets are operationally established. Assessments are made on a general basis, for
administrative purposes and are infrequently used to improve the education process. Their character is, for the most part, punitive, obeying a mono-directional methodology that fails to stimulate students and to provide for their active participation in the process, though in most cases, failures are ascribed to them. The setting-up of a formal education system does not consider the students’ standards, values and attitudes that are relevant to the education system which, generally, is not tested or assessed at the level of student acceptance, as well as for efficacy and efficiency. The same methodology - poor, ineffective, scarcely creative - is adopted, whether the universe contains 10, 50 or 200 students. Other institutional resources than the expositive method are seldom employed and, when they are employed, the basic learning principles are disregarded. The subjects are presented in isolated blocks, whether as to content or methodology. Thus, for instance, in the case of Physics, for techno- administrative reasons the subject is divided into theory, laboratory and exercises and, their adequate order and correlation is disregarded. In general, the objectives...
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