Traditional education is structured and formal – given by an institution (school, university) and leading to a qualification.
Informal learning is the opposite: stuff you learn unintentionally in your daily work, family or leisure activities.
Non-formal learning lies somewhere between these 2 extremes. It can be structured, with learning objectives – but usually happens outside formal institutions: in workshops, seminars, community courses, the workplace or even through sport.
It can be learning on your own initiative, or as a consequence of other activities.
Whatever form it takes, you can now get formal recognition for things you learn like this – through the Youthpass.
And in recent years, more organisations have started to realise that all learning is valuable, and to recognise both non-formal and informal learning as equivalent to formal learning.
OECD recognition of non-formal & informal learning
EU validation of non-formal & informal learning