TYPES OF EDUCATION (Restricted to registered users)


Education is a comprehensive concept that includes the knowledge obtained through all  means such as radio, television, newspapers, journals, personal conversations besides formal education. Often the term education is misinterpreted as the academic education. In order to remove this confusion, there is a need of understanding the various types of education.

General Education:

            General education is the minimum education by which an individual can satisfy his various needs. It is thus aimed at developing the general qualities of the individual, developing his personality and making him capable of coping up with the environment. It modifies his behaviour in accordance with his age and enables him to earn their livelihood.

[wpdevart_like_box profile_id=”FoundationsofEducationBook” connections=”show” width=”300″ height=”150″ header=”small” cover_photo=”show” locale=”en_US”]

Specific Education:

            To have a special room for an individual in the society, he must be able to perform some particular tasks better than any other person. There are some inherited talents in every individual though they differ from person to person. If education is in harmony with those talents, the outcome will be the best. Thus specific education makes the individual a professional. There is a need for specialized instructions to give specific education such as medical colleges, engineering colleges, technical institutes, teacher training colleges etc. In each case, the specific skills in the particular field are enhanced by the special training modules.


Formal Education:

Formal education is the planned activity based on pre defined systematic curriculum supervised by qualified teachers for a pre-set duration with a particular end in view. The different features of formal education are listed below.

  • Planned with a particular goal
  • Time and place of teaching are fixed
  • Educator educates the educand
  • Limited to a specific period, course duration is fixed in months or years
  • Large number of educands can be taught simultaneously
  • Observes strict discipline
  • Well defined and systematic curriculum
  • Leads to certificates, diplomas or degrees

Non formal Education:

Non formal education is an instruction that is not obligatory and structured and is learned outside the context of a formal school. It is related with life environment and learner oriented.

This type of education may be led by a qualified teacher or by a leader with more experience. Non formal education is highly enriching and builds an individual’s skills and capabilities as long as the learner is better motivated. It is often considered more engaging, as the learner’s interest is a driving force behind their participation.

In India, during Pre-Aryan civilization, knowledge was handed over from one generation to the other in a non-formal way through oral literature and discourses. Mass education during the period was through discussion, debates, meetings and conferences arranged in villages.

We shall now analyse three educative processes, namely ‘correspondence learning’, ‘distance learning’ and ‘open systems’, which because of their features fall within the scope of non formal education.

Correspondence learning is a systematized activity, based on the preparation of printed educational materials which are forwarded to the students who are physically separated from the teachers who can give but a limited assistance to them.

Correspondence learning is an individualized learning system that allows students to proceed at their own pace, according to their interests. The institutional materials are for the most part printed and are generally prepared by a teacher who has not enough didactic and technical knowledge to prepare top quality educational material.

Correspondence courses generally establish a bi-directional communication by mail, supported by the teacher who corrects the paper work, offers guidance and the requested explanations. A degree may or may not be obtained and there is no pressure- the students’ motivation is the basic factor for the program’s success.

Distance Learning:

            The organization and administration of distance learning significantly differs from those of formal education. No students attend classes at the institution, except for occasional visitors. There are no classrooms; instead there are places where multi disciplinary terms comprised of redactors, authors, audio visual experts, and so on, plan and compose the materials that will be used. The students may at will discontinue studies whenever he needs or wants to do so.

As per Holmberg, distance learning comprises of the following basic activities:

  • The development and technical production of distance study courses
  • The distribution of course materials
  • The non-contiguous two way communication between students and tutors
  • Record keeping

In some cases, other activities may be required,

  • Course certificate
  • Examination and degrees
  • Supplementary face-to-face contacts between students and tutors/ counsellors.

In distance learning, the teaching is conducted through print, mechanical or electronic devices.

Open learning:

Open systems or open learning have drifted much farther apart from the features of formal education, creating a wide, deep rift. Butts defined open learning systems as “those which offer students a measure of flexibility and autonomy, to study the programmes of their choice when and where they wish, and at a pace to suit their circumstances”.

As mentioned before, correspondence learning can be deemed a type of distance learning and, as distance learning can be said to be an instance of open systems, we conclude that this latter is in the most widely encompassing class among non-formal education examples

The idea of openness may be twofold: open as to structures, that is, a rupture of the physical barriers of educative institutions, so as to provide free access to schools; or open as to methodology and learning resources. Yalli says “The open learning system aims at the formation of independent students who have capacity for self-discipline and a high capacity for synthesis and for analysis.” In an open system, learning is the function of an interaction between the student and the actual world.

Informal Education:

            Informal education is quite diverse from formal education and, particularly, from non-formal education, although in certain cases it is capable of maintaining a close relationship with both. It does not correspond to an organized and systematic view of education; informal education does not necessarily include the objectives and subjects usually encompassed by the traditional curricula. It is aimed at students as much as at the public at large and imposes no obligations whatever their nature. There generally being no control over the performed activities, informal education does not of necessity regard the providing of degrees or diplomas; it merely supplements both formal and non-formal education.

Informal education for instance comprises the following activities: (a) – visits to museums or to scientific and other fairs and exhibits, etc.; (b) – listening to radio broadcasting or watching TV programmes on educational or scientific themes; (c) – reading texts on sciences, education, technology, etc. in journals and magazines; (d) – participating in scientific contests, etc.; (e) attending lectures and conferences. There are many instances of situations/activities encompassed by informal education, from those that may take place in the students’ homes – such as scientific or didactic games, manipulation of kits, experiments, reading sessions (biographies, scientific news, etc.) – to institutional activities – lectures in institutions, visiting museums, etc.

It is easy to see that the higher the degree of systematization and organization involved in informal education activities, the nearer it will be to non-formal education. This is a relevant fact in as much as it suggests the possibility of transition from informal to non-formal. We must ponder that, considered by itself, we cannot generally assert whether an educative action belongs to the formal, to the non-formal or to the informal universe. For instance, a visit to a Science Museum may be an informal education instance if arising from a personal and spontaneous decision by a student, as it is not directly related to his scholastic activities. However, if such a visit is part of an established curriculum, requiring from students a written report and including assessments by the teacher, or tutor, then it will probably be an activity associated to either the formal or to the non-formal education.

Direct Education:

In another classification, education is classified into direct and indirect education. It is equivalent to the formal education. Here the student and teacher are in direct contact. In past India, Gurukula system resembled the direct education. Student lived with the Guru, the teacher and learnt various skills and sciences. Number of students was limited. Individual care and attention were possible.

Indirect Education:

With the increase in population, the scope of direct education has decreased. One of the reasons for direct education was primitive forms of communication. The available study materials were very less. Teacher was the repository of knowledge and students had to by heart things. The only mode of transferring the knowledge was through oral communications. Times have changed, the modern developments as the printing press, television, radio, internet, smart boards etc. have made it possible to communicate the ideas of the greatest thinkers to those people who have never come into direct contact with the thinkers themselves. Correspondence courses are the finest example for indirect education. E-learning has become very common nowadays. Ministry of Human Resource Development, Information and Broadcasting, the Prasar Bharti and IGNOU launched Gyan Darshan (GD) jointly in 2000 as the exclusive educational TV channel of India.

Conscious Education:

Education is also classified into conscious and unconscious education. If the education is aimed to the achievement of pre determined objectives, with a conscious effort, it is known as conscious education. School education is of this kind. It is arranged by the parents and by the state for the child.

Unconscious Education:

It is not compulsory that everything should be learnt deliberately and consciously. Many of the important facts that an individual learns are registered unconsciously from his natural and social environment which surrounds him. When he observes, speaks, listens, plays etc., unconsciously things are understood. This is a form of informal education and it supplements conscious education.

Reference: ‘Education: Philosophy, Sociology and Economics’, Edited by Naseerali M.K., 2nd Edition, 2014.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *