Education is the act of instilling or obtaining knowledge, skills, values, and morals. This can also be defined as the practice of learning and receiving systematic instruction in a structured environment. Through education, individuals develop powers of reasoning and judgment. From teaching to training, research and discussion, education can take different forms. Although learning usually occurs under the tutelage of teachers, learners can also train themselves. This article gives an in-depth understanding of education, the various types of education with their characteristics, pros, and cons. Let’s get started!
What is Education?
Education is a continuous learning phase usually accompanied by positive changes in humans. We can describe education as a pathway to progress as milestones can solely be reached when people possess vast knowledge of a certain field or topic. The education system embodies a series of activities that are instrumental to students learning.
Types of Education
Education isn’t restricted to the four walls of a classroom; it can occur anywhere and anytime. Knowledge is passed them generation to generation via education. There’s been a rise in the number of successful people, societies, and countries through education.
The education system varies from school to school and from country to country. Though the education system differs, some standards are upheld by these schools and countries. There are three significant types of education: formal, informal, and non-formal. We’ll consider each of them.
1. Formal Education
If you’ve had a form of training from an institution, whether public or private, then you’ve been formally educated. Also referred to as formal learning, formal education is a systematic and organized way of learning, usually in school environs. This systematic form of training often involves an individual and a teacher. Here, the student or person receives training from a licensed teacher who’s knowledgeable in a particular field or subject. Though small kids commence education by attending nursery or kindergarten, formal training starts in primary school, continuing to secondary and tertiary schools. At the tertiary or post-secondary stage, the student is issued an academic degree by the university or tertiary institution attended. Many school systems have systems and concepts which govern the school administration. These concepts may include classroom design, curriculum, assessment process, organizational models, student-teacher relationships, class capacity, and so much more. Classroom learning, school grading or certification, organized education of various subjects with an appropriate syllabus. While there are different schools like sectarian, co-ed, and others, all schools must adhere to the preset educational choices. While some schools in the world have different educational approaches, most schools adopt the K-12 program of the United States. This system dictates that a student begins kindergarten schooling at six years and continues through to the elementary stage (12th grade) at age 18. After the 12th grade, they have the privilege of working with their high school certificate or continue their education. Formal education also includes tertiary studies.
Characteristics of Formal Education
- Formal education is structurally ordered.
- It has a learning-focused syllabus.
- Formal training is properly planned and intentional.
- It operates by a chronological grading process.
- Regular fee payments
- Schools and institutions are involved.
- Teachers teach the student
Advantages of Formal Education
- The educational system is organized and scheduled with the latest course outlines.
- Highly professional teachers train students.
- It adopts a systematic form of learning.
- Students are assessed regularly to move to the next learning stage.
- Trained officials manage institutions.
- Certifications are earned at the end of the learning phase.
- Graduates are eligible for jobs
Disadvantages of Formal Education
- Intelligent students may get bored due to the long tenure of academic sessions.
- Compared to other types of learning, formal education is quite expensive and rigid.
- Assessments can be quite stressful, leading to anxiety in students.
- Students may adopt negative habits due to the influence of bad and good learners.
- Loss of intrinsic motivation as only a few students are enthusiastic about learning.
- Wastage of time and money as a result of the unprofessional and non-standard education system.
2. Informal Education
Informal education is a form of learning outside a structured setting or environment. This can be likened to a parent coaching a child on how to cook or tie their shoelaces. Informal education encompasses learning from books or educational websites. This type of learning is neither planned nor intentional and doesn’t require conscious efforts. Informal education can take at home, in the church, society, and the likes. The knowledge garnered in informal education is a result of regular practice and observation. Some informal learning examples may include learning how to speak a language, basic personality traits, extracurricular activities, or skills. Informal learning is not scheduled and doesn’t need a curriculum like formal education. They’re usually knowledge gained from living in the society and experiences of people. A child can learn both formally and informally. For instance, the child can go to school to obtain a formal education. He can participate in after-school programs like sports and clubs to learn other skills, which is informal learning. A trip to the museum, zoo, library, or any other educational center is also informal education. Homeschooling can also be considered as informal education.
Characteristics of Informal Education
- It is an independent way of gaining knowledge without a definite syllabus.
- It is not structured and does not have a definite timetable.
- Learning is mainly through experience and constant practice.
- There’s no fee payment for learning.
- It is a natural and continuous process.
- No issuance of certificates
- Students learn through friends, family, life experiences, media, etc.
Advantages of Informal Education
- There’s no fixed timeframe for learning.
- Various techniques are adopted.
- It’s less expensive and saves time.
- Learning occurs naturally anywhere at any time.
- There’s no need to hire professionals or experts for this learning process.
- It requires constant practice for efficiency.
Disadvantages of Informal Education
- It does not follow a proper schedule or timeframe.
- It leads to indiscipline and the cultivation of negative habits in learners.
- The techniques used may be inappropriate.
- Results can be unpredictable, leading to wastage of time.
- Lots of misinformation on social media platforms, society, and media.
3. Non-Formal Education
Non-formal education encompasses adult basic education, skill development, and adult literacy education. There are different learning approaches in this form of education. In this system, a person who isn’t schooling can learn how to read and write, adopt a job, and other necessary skills. While non-formal education entails structured learning, it doesn’t require any curriculum, syllabus, or certification. Compared to informal learning, it’s more organized and flexible, including various activities. Some non-formal education examples include swimming lessons, adult education courses, fitness programs, boys scout, and girls’ guides. Distance learning and home education are other forms of non-formal education.
Characteristics of Non-Formal Education
- Systematic and deliberate learning outside the school system.
- Adjustable timetable and syllabus
- All ages have access to learn.
- It involves theoretical and practical learning.
- Fee payment and certifications may or may not be applicable.
- Learning may be on a full-time or part-time basis.
Advantages of Non-Formal Education
- The theoretical knowledge will be practicalized.
- It’s a process of skill development; hence no need for certificates, diplomas, or awards.
- Regular examinations are not needed.
- Improvement in self-learning as skill acquisition and literacy is achieved.
- The open-ended learning system works in both the private and public sectors.
Disadvantages of Non-Formal Education
- Low attendance and performance by learners
- Exams are not conducted regularly to evaluate the skill development of learners.
- Issuance of fake certificates by institutions.
- No trained personnel for non-formal learning.
Samples of Education in the World Today
1. Special Education
Also known as special needs education or aided education, special education is a form of learning that addresses students’ individual and special needs. This kind of education is aimed at people with disabilities who cannot possibly adapt to the learning process of formal education. Students’ needs are individually met in this system by implementing teaching processes, modified learning materials, and equipment. These systematic arrangements enable special needs people to attain a level of success and achievement in their community. Special education caters to the needs of people with dyslexia, communication disorders, cerebral palsy, spinal Bifida, autistic spectrum disorder, Asperger syndrome, and other disabilities that may limit their learning capacity in a normal classroom setting.
Different teaching approaches, technology, resource room, and modified teaching area are utilized in special education. Students with various forms of special needs are evaluated to ascertain their particular strengths and weaknesses. After evaluation, the students are placed and provided with resources that will aid their learning. These resources may include curriculum changes, supplementary aides, or materials that help them adapt to their environment. Educational professionals in the United States, UK, and Canada initiate a student program called Individualized Education Program, which focuses on each child’s learning issues and educational goals. For children who are not up to 3 years, a different approach is adopted. The Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) is a legally binding document that contains data on the child’s developmental level in all areas, goals for the child and family, and services required by the child and family to achieve the goals. In the United States, there is a federal law (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) binding all school systems to offer free education to all children, aged 3 to 22, irrespective of the severity of the child’s disability. Any school that does not comply with this law will be denied access to federal funding.
Preschool is the first school a child attends. Also referred to as kindergarten, this learning stage is for children in their early childhood, usually below three years. They complete the preschool level before proceeding to primary school. Kindergarten prepares kids for primary education and society. Based on the country’s primary education system, some preschools are designed for children between 3 and 7. Preschool is the earliest form of education aimed at developing the child’s physical, mental, and moral behavior.
3. Elementary School
Elementary school is designed for children aged 6 and 13, though the years of learning vary from country to country. This educational system instills necessary skills like reading, writing, and general knowledge in children. An elementary school, which is also known as the primary school, prepares children for secondary education.
4. Secondary Education
Secondary education consists of lower secondary and upper secondary education. Some educational systems categorize them as high school. The United States, Canada, and Australia peg both primary and secondary school as K-12 education. In this system, students gain advanced knowledge and learn vocational skills to prepare them for their chosen career or profession. Students aged 13 to 18 are expected to attend high school. Learners, 18 years and above or a minor with parents’ consent can decide to drop out of school. Children who leave school without notice are termed truants and will be sent to juvenile homes. Their parents can also be charged with criminal offenses. A high school dropout who intends to work will need to take General Educational Development tests (GED). These tests evaluate the academic level and thinking skills of the applicant. GED is almost the same as the high school diploma.
Secondary schools provide varied and in-depth learning instrumental to employment and higher learning.
5. Tertiary or Post-secondary Education
Also known as tertiary studies, post-secondary education comprises undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, vocational education, and non-degree programs. In completion of high school learning, students proceed to tertiary institutions for advanced learning. In contrast to elementary and high school education, which is compulsory for children below 18, tertiary education is optional. This final learning leads to the issuance of an academic degree or certificate. Post-secondary education isn’t limited to obtaining a bachelor’s degree from universities or colleges. There are other means by which you can attain post-secondary education. Let’s consider some of them.
6. Vocational Schools
Vocational institutions train students on different vocations, skills, and crafts. While college students are trained for careers in professional disciplines, vocational students are trained on physical skills. Vocational Schools are either run privately or public; fully or partially funded by Government for people. Some vocational courses are fashion designing, catering, home management, carpentry, hair styling, and massage therapy. Some of these courses offer certificates that give learners a competitive edge in the labor market.
7. Community Colleges
While college students obtain bachelor’s degrees after four years, students of community colleges obtain associate degrees after two years. Often referred to as junior colleges or two-year colleges, community colleges offer community programs. Few of them run vocational courses and non-degree programs. Community colleges provide basic education hence their short duration. Graduates of these institutions can search for jobs or decide to advance their education in the university. Having attended classes in community college, a student can work towards bagging a bachelor’s degree from the university.
8. Non-degree Programs
In this educational system, students attend colleges or universities not to earn a degree but for learning purposes. Non-degree students do not see the importance of obtaining a degree. These students want to have knowledge of a specific field or add to their resume. Non-degree students who participate in online or classroom learning want to know specific topics to build their resume or personal development. The learner won’t bag a degree but a certificate of completion.
9. Colleges and Universities
These are the most common and popular choice for garnering post-secondary education. They offer both bachelor and postgraduate degrees for students. Law school, dental school, business school, and medical school provide postgraduate degrees. To have a comparative advantage in the job market, some individuals will have to go to graduate or business school for a master’s degree. Law and medical students will need to complete their education before considering specific job roles. For example, you’ll need to finish law school and excel at the bar exam to be a lawyer. Colleges and universities are probably the costliest types of education, although there are options to secure a scholarship and grant programs. These scholarships may be full or partial with perks like food, monthly stipends, and allowances covering books and other necessary items. Although scholarships are highly competitive, they’re usually given to students who perform excellently well or need financial aid. Completing a post-secondary education isn’t a guarantee that you’ll secure a job right after your degree. Based on the data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2018, 70 percent of high school graduates aged 16 to 28 got admitted into colleges and universities. Out of the 20 to 29-year-olds that earned a college degree, only 72 percent were gainfully employed. Nevertheless, 74 percent of high school graduates were in the labor market, with 42 percent of high school dropouts actively working. This means that there’s always a role for everyone in the job market irrespective of their educational achievement.
There’s no denying that education is the greatest gift to humanity. For the overall development of an individual, it’s expedient you excel in all three forms of education. To evolve as a better person, you’ll need to read a lot, conduct research, ask questions and participate in training classes.