Non-formal education differs from formal education and informal education. Non-formal education
became part of the international discourse on education policy in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
It can be seen as related to the concepts of recurrent and lifelong learning. Tight (1996: 68)
suggests that whereas the latter concepts have to do with the extension of education and learning
throughout life, non-formal education is about 'acknowledging the importance of education,
learning and training which takes place outside recognized educational institutions'. Fordham
(1993) suggests that in the 1970s, four characteristics came be associated with non-formal
1. Relevance to the needs of disadvantaged groups.
2. Concern with specific categories of person.
3. A focus on clearly defined purposes.
4. Flexibility in organization and methods.
In many northern countries the notion of non-formal education is not common in internal policy
debates - preferred alternatives being community education and community learning, informal
education and social pedagogy.