Non-formal Education: What Is It, and How Can It Help Street Children?

Education is a lifelong process of learning and sharing knowledge and skills. We are all entitled the right of education, along with our rights to food, shelter, and proper healthcare. Education promotes individual freedom and empowerment. It allows individuals to be aware and full exercise all other rights. Through learning, we constantly improve the quality of life.

This involves all types of education, from formal to non-formal education. Unfortunately, receiving education is deemed as a privilege for some, especially for the underprivileged. Despite the efforts of the government to provide free education to children, there are still those who cannot benefit from this.

Types of Children Learning

Learning can be achieved through several means. The basic form of education is achieved with the help of professional training and trained teachers in schools. On the other hand, we also learn through our daily experiences—from interacting and talking to other people.

There are several types of education where children can learn from: formal education, informal education, and non-formal education. Let’s take a look at each of them.

Formal Education

Formal education exists through the educational systems in our society. It takes place inside schools and colleges. Children learn within the four corners of a classroom under the instruction of trained teachers. Later on, they can opt for higher education in a college or university with a chosen academic degree.

Characteristic of Formal Education

  • Follows a recommended syllabus or lesson plan
  • Regular exams are conducted
  • Tuition and other fees are paid
  • There is a grading system that students must adhere to


  • Classroom learning
  • Primary and middle schools
  • University degrees


  • It is a systematic way of learning
  • There are organized and updated course contents
  • Students learn from qualified and trained teachers
  • Several tests are conducted to assess children’s learning
  • Children are assessed and can move up to next level of learning
  • Children who finished formal education are given formal recognition and certification
  • Graduates have easy access to job opportunities


  • Costly fees
  • Every student has different set of interests and abilities; and so, keeping them in a rigid form of learning can cause laziness and inattentiveness
Childhope Philippines provides tools for non-formal education

Informal Education

Not everything we learn can be obtained in schools, universities, and institutions. Informal education is gained through daily experiences and interactions. Our life experiences have imparted us with skills and learning that are essential for our social relations and survival.

Informal learning can take place without engaging in educational activities. One can learn by reading the newspaper or subscribing to informational media. Informal learning can also be obtained outside school like at home, marketplace, and the streets.

Non-formal Education

A non-formal education is framed in accordance with specific requirements of a certain skill or job. It is important to note that non-formal education is not a substitute for formal learning. However, it complements the formal education within the process of lifelong learning of an individual.

Characteristics of Non-formal Education

  • Offers flexible courses according to the abilities of the student
  • It is not necessary to follow a timetable and syllabus
  • Enhances practical and technical skills
  • Caters to any age group
  • Students can choose from full-time or part-time learning


  • Community-based education programs
  • Boy Scouts develop sports program such as swimming
  • Online courses
  • Fitness programs
  • Software learning


  • Flexibility with age, time and personal interests
  • Practical and technical vocation
  • Fees and certificates may or may not be necessary
  • Promotes individual abilities
  • Enhances attention and participation of students since they are more engaged with a specific literacy


  • Attendance of participants is unsteady
  • Lack of assessment and certification
  • No regular schedule to reinforce retention and understanding
  • Basic reading and writing skills are necessary
Street educator from Childhope Philippines facilitating non-formal education

Importance of Non-formal Education

Children who opt for non-formal education grow on a more personal level as they engage in their own skills and interests. Their capacity to learn on their own develops an awareness of their part the society. Non-formal learning helps individuals with decision-making and builds self-confidence.

In addition, non-formal education promotes a spectrum of skills. With that, it contributes to a nation’s social and economic development. Also, through personalized training, non-formal learning boosts job opportunities and self-employment.

Alternative Learning System for Street Children through KalyEskwela

The rate of out-of-school children and youth in the Philippines has been increasing. In fact, the Department of Education (DepEd) stated that it can reach up to four million this 2021 due to the pandemic. Apart from the crisis, young people are not attending school due to several reasons like poverty, family issues, and child labor, to name a few.

DepEd implements non-formal education programs through the Alternative Learning System (ALS). Such programs contribute to adult and youth literacy as well as education for out-of-school children. They also offer programs on life skills, work skills, and social and cultural development. In an effort to bring education closer to the street children, Childhope Philippines has come up with “KalyEskwela,” which literally translates to “school on the streets.” They use mobile vans with audiovisual equipment to conduct classes. Under the ALS program, street children and youth learn through modules with guidance from street educators.

Moreover, this street child project also encourages children to go back to formal schooling. For older teens, the product conducts trade and tech skills training to help them gain income to support themselves as well as their families.

street children in poverty

Be the Hope of the Out-of-School Youth in the Philippines Today

We at Childhope value the right to protection and fulfillment of the Filipino street children. We believe that just like other children, out-of-school youth should also be given a chance to maximize their potentials and secure their future through our street education programs.

If you’d like to help them realize a brighter future, you may donate to our causes, which will be directly used toward programs that give these children a chance at a better life. But if you wish to be more hands-on about helping, contact us and be a volunteer today.

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