Elements Of Alternative Learning System (ALS) Informal Education (INFED)

With INFED being a component of ALS that complements the Nonformal Education (NFE) component, it is able to create opportunities for self development based on an individual’s declared learning interest.

Consequently, through INFED, a person is able to acquire skills that he recognizes as his needs. Moreover, INFED responds to an individual’s learning needs at the time and situation when it is most needed.

Formal basic education is often focused at preparing someone for college work and college education is aimed at preparing someone for professional work. However, there are still numerous facers of one’s life that formal education cannot cover, these includes family life, social life, personal interest, aging, among others, informal education provides the “just-in-time” and “as-needed” learning that individuals need as they progress through life and perform many other functions other than their jobs.

Informal Education can be considered both “Life-wide” as well as “life-long.” This means we all have various learning needs at various of our lives. What most people learn in school are often forgotten through disuse or they simply become obsolete. Continuous technological development also force one to update their knowledge and skills. There are many things that may not be relevant to learn at certain times but are very useful or even critical at other times. People also expand their areas of interests as well as change their priorities in life. Thus, their learning needs also change. The main answer to most of these is informal education.

Strictly speaking, since INFED is acquired incidentally and is based on one’s personal interest, there is no external “teacher” other than the person himself. However, INFED in ALS may also be delivered through a learning facilitator sometimes called a “guild master”. A coach, a role model, etc. who demonstrates a deeper understanding and a wider range of skills that learners wish to acquire.

The primary role of ALS Implementers in informal education is to provide the learning opportunities. This includes the following:

  • Identify the Learning Needs
    By conducting various activities ranging from plain observation and informal interviews to systematic gathering of training needs based on the circumstances surrounding the individual learners. Indirect methods like information from family members. Friends or members of the community may provide pertinent training needs information. ALS implementers must be on the look out for “environmental triggers” that can push the learning needs of people in their community. Some critical incidents like health warnings, impending disasters, social issues, etc. can trigger learning needs among members of the community
  • Finding Training Providers
    ALS implementers also are responsible for finding the appropriate training providers for informal education. These can be formal institutions or simply knowledgeable persons who can share their knowledge or expertise. Sometimes special interest groups and professional organizations can provide the needed training. The key is to find a good match between the trainee needs and the providers. The matching involves making use that the trainees have the needed background knowledge or skill needed for the intended INFED program
  • Managing the INFED Program
    The task of organizing and managing the INFED program is the main responsibility of the ALS implementer. These include: finding the venue and materials, informing the trainees and the trainers, overseeing the INFED program, and conducting an evaluation including follow-up evaluation later. Proper documentation of the INFED program is also required.

Ariel D. Cañete
Abucay District ALS Coordinator

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