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Why Informal Education predates formal education system

Education plays a crucial role in shaping individuals’ lives. It serves as a conduit for personal growth, skill acquisition, and understanding of the world.
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Education plays a crucial role in shaping individuals’ lives. It serves as a conduit for personal growth, skill acquisition, and understanding of the world. It’s a learning process enabling individuals to express themselves, achieve specific goals that breed success, and learn about their environment and the world. This learning process encompasses both formal and informal education, each with its unique characteristics and significance. This content is set to shed light on one of the types of education: informal education, which has been frequently compared to formal education, which is widely accepted and practiced.

Informal education is a longstanding tradition in Africa, particularly Nigeria. It predates the establishment of formal educational systems. Historically, it served as the primary means of knowledge transmission among individuals. It was the earliest and highest form of learning before formal education’s evolution. It is the form of education that existed in Nigeria, before the coming of the colonialists.Informal education is a compulsory and crucial part of the learning process as it serves as the first stage of learning for everyone. In Nigeria, as of 2020, approximately 10.5 percent of the youth population participated in informal education.There are different places an individual can obtain informal education including family, religious organisation, and peer groups. Informal education can also be in form of homeschooling, self-teaching, auto-didacticism, etc.

Examples of informal education include a father teaching his child how to ride a bicycle, iron clothes, clean the surroundings, determine the time of the day, or drive a car, a mother teaching her child how to make various dishes, parents instilling values and culture in a child, surfing the internet to learn about recepies,etc.

Different from formal education by its absence of a structured curriculum, informal education consists of different learning experiences that occur outside traditional classroom settings. Informal education is based on self-learning. It thrives on the principle that learning is a continuous journey rather than a finite destination. It empowers individuals to continue learning and growing beyond formal schooling, adapting to new challenges, and seizing opportunities for personal and professional development. Informal learning makes room for broader and better learning experiences as it exposes us to various concepts throughout our lives.

Informal Education does not require payment of fees before learning can occur. Informal learning provides the avenue for learners to learn on any occasion at any time. Learning occurs from everyday experiences, environments, societal or family settings, group discussions, and online helps students to acquire the knowledge they missed in formal learning. Because it has no rigid curriculum students must adhere to at any given point in time, informal education makes learning relaxed and stress-free. Furthermore, its teaching method is practical and not theory-based as seen in formal education. And it teaches through real-life experiences instead of abstractions.

Despite the numerous advantages of informal education, this system has numerous disadvantages that cannot be overlooked. Informal education in Nigeria lacks a structured curriculum or standardised learning framework, leading to inconsistencies. Without clear objectives or guidelines, students may struggle to acquire comprehensive knowledge and skills. Informal learning experiences are often not recognised or accredited by formal educational institutions or employers. An individual cannot progress academically or professionally based on their informal education achievements.

In conclusion, informal education alone is not enough for an individual. Every student should be encouraged to acquire both formal and informal education to have a balanced education.

Read also: Breaking the chains of gender stereotypes in Nigeria’s education

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