Course Content
Introduction to Erasmus+ Youth
This module serves as the foundation for your journey into the world of Erasmus+ Youth, an exciting programme that offers young people across Europe a myriad of opportunities to engage in international experiences, develop new skills, and foster a sense of global citizenship.
What are the opportunities?
Here you can find out about the different types of opportunities related to the Erasmus+ programme and learn more about the Youth Exchange and Training Course.
Who can take part?
Discover who can join the opportunities mentioned before.
How does it work?
As you know, the European Commission funds these mobilities, so in this section you will learn more about how the funding is distributed and how to prepare yourself to take part in a mobility.
Beginner’s Guide to Erasmus+ Youth for young people
About Lesson

What is the difference between Formal and Non-formal education? Are they opposed? Can they work together?

Erasmus plus aims to work to bring closer the gap between formal and non-formal education to help achieve its aims and bring about positive change for society. Before we start to explore this we need to look at what are the differences between the two and how the Erasmus plus can work. 

Education is a broad and dynamic field that encompasses various modes of learning. Two significant forms of education are formal and non-formal education. Though distinct in their approaches, objectives, and settings, they are not opposed and can indeed complement each other effectively.

Formal Education

Definition and Characteristics:

1. Structured Environment: Formal education typically takes place in a structured environment, such as schools, colleges, and universities.

2. Curriculum-Based: It follows a prescribed curriculum, which is standardised and regulated by educational authorities.

3. Graded System: Formal education includes a grading system, where students are evaluated and promoted based on their performance.

4. Credentialing: Successful completion of formal education programs leads to recognised qualifications, such as diplomas, degrees, or certificates.

5. Age-Specific: It often follows age-specific cohorts, with students grouped by age or grade levels.


– Primary and secondary schools

– Universities and colleges

– Technical and vocational education institutions

Non-formal Education

Definition and Characteristics:

1. Flexible Structure: Non-formal education is more flexible in terms of structure, timing, and location. It can occur in community centres, online platforms, workplaces, or even homes.

2. Learner-Centred: It is often more learner-centred, focusing on the needs, interests, and pace of the learners rather than a fixed curriculum.

3. No Standardised Curriculum: Non-formal education may not follow a standardised curriculum. Instead, it can be tailored to specific learning outcomes or skills.

4. Assessment Variety: It may include various forms of assessment, such as peer reviews, self-assessment, or informal evaluations, rather than standardised testing.

5. Inclusive and Accessible: It aims to be inclusive and accessible, often targeting those who may not thrive in formal educational settings or those seeking additional learning opportunities.


– Adult education classes

– Community-based workshops

– Online courses and webinars

– Informal apprenticeships and training programs

– Youth clubs and extracurricular activities

Are They Opposed?

Formal and non-formal education are not inherently opposed; they serve different purposes and can cater to different needs. Formal education provides a foundational, standardised learning experience, essential for academic and professional development. Non-formal education, on the other hand, offers flexibility and relevance, often addressing immediate practical skills or personal interests.

Can They Work Together?

Absolutely, formal and non-formal education can work together synergistically. Here’s how:

1. Complementary Learning: Non-formal education can supplement formal education by providing additional skills and knowledge that may not be covered in a formal curriculum. For example, a student might attend formal school during the day and take non-formal coding classes in the evening.

2. Lifelong Learning: In today’s fast-changing world, lifelong learning is crucial. Formal education lays the foundation, while non-formal education offers ongoing opportunities for skill enhancement and personal growth.

3. Bridging Gaps: Non-formal education can help bridge gaps left by formal education, such as soft skills, vocational training, or addressing specific learning needs.

4. Enhanced Engagement: Incorporating non-formal educational methods within formal settings can increase student engagement and motivation by introducing practical, hands-on learning experiences.

Practical Examples of Integration:

– Blended Learning: Schools and universities can incorporate non-formal elements, such as online courses or community projects, into their programs.

– Community Outreach: Formal educational institutions can partner with community organisations to provide non-formal educational opportunities, such as workshops, seminars, and training programs.

– Professional Development: For professionals, non-formal education can offer ongoing learning opportunities that complement formal qualifications, such as industry certifications or professional workshops.

Both formal and non-formal education have unique strengths and can play significant roles in an individual’s educational journey. Rather than viewing them as opposites, recognising their potential to complement each other can lead to a more holistic and effective educational experience. By leveraging the strengths of both, learners can benefit from a comprehensive, adaptable, and lifelong learning path.

“Formal, non-formal and informal education are complementary and mutually reinforcing elements of a lifelong learning process”