NFE – Non Formal Education

Non-Formal Education refers to any planned programme of social education that aims to improve a wide range of skills and attitudes outside the academic education system.

It involves both individual and group learning and consists in a voluntary process that provides individuals with educational objectives for learning life skills and prepares them for active citizenship. 

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Experiential learning

Experiential learning is the process of learning through experience whereby participants “learn by doing” and by reflecting on the experience. 

Experiential learning requires the learners to not only engage in the experience activity, but also requires them to reflect upon their learning and how the skills, attitudes and behaviours gained through the educational activity can be applied beyond the actual learning environment.

Experiential learning is a process that engages the learner in a way that is not passive and:

  • It combines direct experience with focused reflection; 
  • It builds on past knowledge and experiences; 
  • It requires active involvement in meaning construction; 
  • It encourages collaboration and exchange of ideas and perspectives;  
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Debriefing is (according to Cambridge Dictionary) “a meeting that takes place in order to get information about a particular piece of work that has been finished, for example about what was done successfully and what was not”.

It consists of a structured process following an exercise or event that reviews the actions taken, emotions and discoveries, and thus allows the learning to emerge out of the group by the participants themselves. 

Debriefing might be one of the most valuable methods under Non Formal Education. It’s the natural closing of almost every activity or experience (simulation, role-play, workshop, discussion, art-piece, visit, encounter…) and most of the time the only way to make learning conscious. 

Most of the time having or not a good debriefing makes the difference between actual learning and mere entertainment. 

Qualitative criteria for a good debriefing according the MINOSIA LABYRINTH TOOLKIT

  • It takes time! There is no shortcut to reach its purpose, and processing the experience takes time. The total time depends on the size of the group and the experience itself; however the size of the group is not always a reliable reference point. Often, in smaller groups (around 10 people), participants feel more comfortable and actually share and talk more. It is better you allocate more time to it than less!                                                                                                                                                                                  
  • Follow the phases in the given order. A productive flow of discussion should follow these steps, which will maximize the learning outcomes. This structure in fact helps the facilitator, because it makes it easier for them and the group to follow the way the discussion is building up and crystalizing into learning points.
  • Reflection: discussion of their feelings, reactions, actions and thoughts during the experience itself;
  • Generalization: discussion of their associations with real life, general observations, general learning points. This discussion is based on the outcome of the reflection discussion;
  • Transfer: discussion of how they can take the learning points further, which ones are more suitable to them and how they can transfer them into their lives. Ask adequate, good and relevant questions. The questions should be strongly linked with the previous two aspects. They have to lead the group towards deep insights (the so called AHA! moment). Some general questions suggested for each phase:


  • How did you feel?
  • What did you do?
  • How did you react? 


  • What association do you make with this?
  • What general observations do you make?
  • What are the main important learning points?


  • What can you take from this?
  • What will you apply in your realities?
  • What do you want to do differently next time?


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