4TH European Student Convention
Dubrovnik – 21st/ 23d of March 2002
“Recognition of non-formal education”
What I hear, I forget…
What I see, I recognize…
What I do, I understand
After an extended process of consultation to member countries and the civil society, The European Union
published a final communication about Life Long Learning. On the memorandum and later on the communication
there was reserved space for non-formal and in-formal education. The workshop tried to build up a profile towards
student visions on non-formal education and specifically on the issues of recognition of non-formal education.
Initial expectations of participants
Participants in the workshop stated that they wanted to learn more about the topic of recognition of non formal
education, they wanted to share experiences and compare data between different countries with different models.
The need to discuss relations between formal and non-formal education, and how they could be combined was
raise and also that the recognition of non-formal education could prove to be important to improve the
participation rate of students in their organisations.
The workshop agreed in a general way about the objectives and outcomes of the workshop and there was
consensus that the outcomes should be used to participants in Lisbon Meeting and the workshop should be seen
has the start of a broader discussion on recognition issues. The report could be a guide to the member unions for
further discussion on recognition issues. It was also agreed that the outcomes of the convention should be used
for a revised policy paper on recognition. Regarding Life Long Learning (LLL)it was agreed that this workshop
could contribute to a future policy paper in LLL.
History of LLL: Memorandum and Communication of the European Commission
The chairs of the workshop made a superficial overview about the current discussions going on about the issues
of LLL and non-formal education, in particular they emphasised:
The six key messages of the LLL memorandum…
New Basic Skills for All; More Investment in Human Resources; Innovation in Teaching and Learning; Valuing
Learning; Rethinking guidance and counselling; Bringing Learning Closer to Home.
The key note on the communication of the Commission:
Adapt the systems in a way that they are flexible and open to permit that learners have access to individual
pathways in learning , according to their interests and needs.
The six priorities of action proposed by the commission:
Evaluation and Recognition of non-formal and informal learning;
Transference and mutual recognition of formal certificates and diplomas
Information, orientation and counselling:
Counselling Services with quality.
Investing Time and Money in Learning:
Increase the global level of investment of member states in education and training;
Increase private investments.
Bringing learning and learners closer:
Encourage learning regions/communities;
Encourage labour places to became “learning organisations”;
Develop local learning centres.
Guarantee to all citizens access to the basic skills in all periods of life.
Assume the new role of teachers and learners.
Definition of non-formal education and recognition
The workshop discussed differences and similarities between
non-formal and informal education with the starting point being
that in a simplified way non-formal education is formal learning
in non-formal institutions.
In the discussion it was said that there are differences between
recognition for the labour market and academic recognition.
And that skills and qualifications obtained in non-formal
education are more easily recognise by the labour market than
by the academia.
It was also said that sometimes it’s difficult to distinguish
between non-formal and informal learning.
Basic Skills from the student point of view
The workshop divided into two groups to discuss and make a list of the basic skills that individuals require to
thrive in society. From the presentations of the two groups it was assumed that basic skills required to complete
secondary education already exist and that the individuals also possessed the required scientific skills for their
field of study. The Basic Skills identified were divided into three categories:
Analytical Skills: Social Skills: Technical Skills:
Being able to interpret texts and Being able to interact on Being able to speak and work
problems. different social and cultural at least in a different language.
Being able to resolve problems, backgrounds. Being able to seek and manage
Relating different date and Tolerance. information.
applying it to new contexts. Natural Leadership. Being able to use current
Applying abstract theories in Long Term Vision. technology and adapt to future
concrete situations. Acting in a sustainable way at technologies in a quick way.
Having a notion of scale and the social, economical and Being able to cope with
relative importance of issues. environmental level. professional standards in the
Being able to identify key points Knowing how to transmit field of activity.
and the essential. knowledge (pedagogy). Develop “persona” skills in
Knowing how to manage time Being able to discuss and order to survive everyday
and define priorities. debate. challenges.
Being effective. Possess a scientific common Knowing basic first aids
Being Innovative. culture.
From the analyses of the columns there was the impression that many of the categorized skills had more than
one dimension, being possible for them to belong in different categories. In a generic way it was also assumed
that many of the skills identified are “citizenship” skills necessary for every day life and not only in the working
Is was said that it is almost impossible for an individual to have all the Basic Skills and that they more or less
worked in clusters or groups.
In a conclusion it was said that the application of this basic skills would have as a result that the individual could
be able to set is own pathway regarding education and training in order to remain updated with the professional
and social requirements.
Participants presented several expects of LLL and non-formal learning provision in their home countries. It was
said that there cannot be identified typical forms of provision according to countries and that even in a more
regional level that differences are not many.
From Portugal we heard that more and more formal institutions are providing for non-formal ways of learning and
that there is a defensive reaction of formal providers in higher education regarding the recognition of prior
learning. Denmark informed that when entering H.E. you always need an official certificate but that in a case of a
tie the selection has in mind other qualifications besides the formal one. Special Diplomas can be obtained in
“people” universities but those are different from the “formal ones”. Bielo-Russia informed that there is currently
going on a big reform in Education and that non-formal providers will need a license. In Norway there is a move
towards the merger between non-formal and formal education. In Malta H.E. is responding to the demand of the
labour market to give specific degrees and qualifications. In the Netherlands LLL is very open and it’s mostly
labour market orientated. In Finland Youth organisations are concern with their provision of non-formal education
and there was introduced a port-folio that helps young people demonstrating their skills obtained by their work in
NGOs. There are open universities in Finland, but their level is considered lower than formal universities. Open
Universities are open to regular students, that sometimes use their free time to catch up in some disciplines.
There are also people academia.
In a general conclusion the workshop realised that countries represented are showing increasing attention to the
goals of LLL, that there is a great of increase of providers of non-formal education. That formal providers are
giving non-formal education and that there is a tendency for this extra offer to be profit based. It seems that the
offer is more oriented to be recognised in an individual base rather then concerned with further recognition.
The workshop discussed in a very generic way some of the frameworks, measures and instruments related to
APEL – Acreditation of Prior Experimental Learning; Europass (recognition for work-lined training); Diploma
Supplement; an accumulation system of credits based on ECTS; ECDL – European Computers Driving License;
European CV, etc
It was discussed that all this issues should be integrated in a coherent way in order to avoid the creation of a
complicated system, rather than a complex one. It was said that will the profusion of all the frameworks, measures
and instrument justified the necessity for an efficient system of guidance and counselling that should permit the
use of this instruments by all. It was also noted that the introduction of these issues was improving the
transparency and trust in the system.
Stakeholders in the process and recognition of non-formal education
The workshop was divided in two groups. Each group had two define 5 stakeholders; private, public,
organisation, provider and receiver, discuss these stakeholders and what there rights and obligations should be,
also who sohuld do the recognition and pay for this. The workshop then problemized and discussed the
Examples of stakeholders and there role, outcomes of discussion
- National unions as education providers for local unions. Also fulfil social mission, also provide informal skills
setting that are recognised through knowledge of the union…and receivers of education from ESIB…
- 82 year old grandmother studying for European IT drivers license, studying at private 4 profit institution has
right to be recognised through consumer protection. Responsibility of student to find out credibility and
transferability of qualification. Provider must offer value to paying customer
- People before profit; non-formal education as both a private and public good. The recognition of non-formal
should both benefit the receiver and the provider
- Evening school receives certificate. Responsibility of student to work out their next step in terms of career
advancement as they have no degree rather a certificate and also must manage time efficiently. Government
provided education and their obligation to follow rules of institution. Issues around taking leave from work to
- NGO- Scouts. Responsibility to teach values and act as role model to kids obliged to teach ´scouting values´.
Right to receive training from scouting organisation possibly from national officers. Recognition could be
through European CV or reference from Scouting organisation. Problems relating to state or social prejudice of
NGO, need for universal method of recording non traditional skills. CVs should be output based, not thick
- Receiver defined as one who wants or needs education. Government interest in socialisation through
education. Private provider defined as any organisation making profit for either itself, individual or community
that it serves. aims at serving its interests
- Public provider interest in providing education to individual and community to which it serves
- NGOs defined as existing in interests of its ideals and improvements of its community
- Obligations of receiver, to seek info, complete programme and get qualification recognised
- Providers should inform government about qualifications.
- Who recognises qualifications? Difficult for provider, government can confer credibility and regulation as an
- Difficult to define stakeholders from their background better to look at their specific role eg government can be
provider and receiver. Recognition by market of many non formal qualifications. NGOs can provide multilateral
- Difficult to assess “levels” of non-formal education
- Many recognition structures, can they be integrated into a framework? Government best practice, cross
checking of recognition bodies by independent sometimes NGO agencies. State participation needs to be
carefully defined. Private industry recognises qualifications on its own terms
- Recognition needs to be done in consultation with government, industry, NGOs, many actors.
- Relationship between receiver and provider facilitated by government and agencies
- Too many providers and certain providers mean that non formal recognition can never be perfect
- Recognition agencies developed in conjunction with providers and receivers to provide flexible framework that
are transparent and coherent
- Employers should be informed about LLL and pay attention to it at interviews
- LLL paradigm should be promoted by government
- Rules will only work for some providers, there is no one “model” that fits all the providers
- Rules should be flexible and allow for greater specificity amongst certain providers
Discussion of the Pros and Cons of ESIB as a non-formal education provider
Should ESIB be recognised as a provider? How can ESIB be recognised as a non formal provider?
- Needs to be recognised as big, professional, capacity building for members. Student unions can be stronger.
Student organisations need PR to be seen as credible bodies
- Many skills are conferred through informal mechanisms such as language work…
- ESIB needs to be recognised by labour market. This is a big obstacle!
- Evaluation of learning rather then recognition of skills
- Will recognition lead to more effort and higher outputs of organisation?
- Role in organisation needs to be acknowledged
- Promotion of ESIB will increase recognition
- Self evaluation for participants ?
- Certification gives confidence to labour market
- Recognition takes time to install in employment culture
- How to judge ´depth of involvement´ and evaluate quality of skills
- Evaluation tricky issue
- Evaluation by stakeholders needed.
Final Comments, Very difficult to discuss recognition without evaluation!!
For further discussion in ESIB;
Evaluation a real issue, when, how, quality assurance, always possible or desired
Resume of good practice in non-formal education
Agency structures and composition