Chapter 1 

An introduction to the concept of non-formal Mathematics 

1.1 Non-Formal Mathematics 

How can we define the concept of non-formal learning/education? 

The term ‘non-formal education’ goes way back, to 1974, where Coombs and Ahmed used the term for the first time. Coombs and Ahmed, determined that learning and education could be equated, despite how, where, and when the learning process occurred (Mok, 2011). Non-formal learning can be defined as a form of learning which occurs outside the classroom, separate from the formal school system. In other words, outside the parameters of traditional learning institutions and structures. Thus, an educator together with a student, ‘hold’ their activities and learning outside the formal system. The terms community learning, adult education, lifelong learning can be used interchangeably in non-formal education (Khasnabis et al., 2010). Non-formal learning is about, recognizing how important learning, education, and training outside the standard educational foundations, are (What Is Non-Formal Education?, 2015). Moreover, non-formal education is used in the procedure of lifelong education of individuals, as an addition, an alternative approach, or as a complementary learning method to formal education. It is not used as a replacement for formal approaches. Non-formal learning guarantees providing access to education to all individuals of all ages (Non-Formal Education, 2020). Thus, non-formal education and learning refer to a relatively methodical type of learning, which is not necessarily pre-planned. Similarly to formal learning, non-formal has as a target for learners and teachers to achieve specific learning tasks (Mok, 2011). 

As we all know, there are different methods when teaching different learners, and different topics that can be taught in a different setting with a different approach. By introducing non-formal learning, teachers and students become equal. In other words, there is no need for students to call the teacher ‘Sir’ or ‘Miss’ and a student’s schedule is as important as the teacher’s schedule. Non-formal learning focuses on the empowerment of a learner in achieving more and challenges both the student and the educator to come up with a variety of ideas, to listen as well as argue with each other (Spiteri, 2016). It is important for all of us, to recognize non-formal learning and education as an indispensable part of the process of education and acknowledge the influence non-formal learning can make in educational organizations. Non-formal learning can be considered as an essential part of the concept of lifelong learning and can ensure that learners preserve the skills and abilities which are needed in adapting to a repeatedly changing environment. The collection of non-formal teaching tools and different learning structures can be seen as an innovative and creative alternative to the classic and traditional teaching schemes. The benefits of introducing non-formal approaches include getting a chance to experiment and take responsibilities through engaging in non-formal education; being able to develop enthusiasm and curiosity towards the learning process; learning to work together in a team, and build decision-making skills. Furthermore, an educational process based on non-formal learning can help in the development of personal and social skills, through the experimental process (Non-Formal Education, 1999). Through the development of the personal and social skills of each individual, teachers can help the children boost their self-esteem. A healthy critical attitude of the surroundings can be developed by each individual’s learning and ‘discovering’ capacity (“What Is Non-Formal Education and Why It Is Important,” 2018).