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The current Conference time is: 15th Aug 2022, 12:29:56am CEST

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Parallel session - L.5 Re-Inventing the Integration Between Formal, Non Formal and Informal Education (After Pandemic Time)?
Saturday, 05/June/2021:
4:15pm - 6:30pm

Session Chair: Maurizio Merico
Session Chair: Fausta Scardigno
Location: Room 4

Session Panels:
L.5. Re-Inventing the Integration Between Formal, Non Formal And Informal Education (After Pandemic Time)?

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Marianna Colosimo, Anna Fausta Scardigno

Università degli Studi di Bari "Aldo Moro", Italia

The Covid-19 emergency contributed to amplify the problems of social inclusion for migrant people, with an emerging need of change in social and educational policy. A valuable response can come from a better integration between formal, non-formal and informal learning, with particular attention to the recognition of educational credentials (Merico and Scardigno, 2020). In fact, the process of recognition and consequent validation «can increase participation in lifelong learning and access to the labour market» (Council of the European Union, 2012, p. 3; Souto-Otero and Villalba-Garcia, 2015, p. 588 ).

This contribution focuses on experiences of validation of learning and skills of migrant people, by highlighting the role played by an improved integration between formal, informal and non-formal education systems. Specifically, the results of a first critical review on the subject will be presented, with a focus on good practices in some Northern European countries.

The purpose of this research project was to reconsider the value of lifelong learning processes for people with a migrant background. The guiding assumption links the building of a "polycentric" educational system to the generation of new chances of cultural and professional integration of young migrants, whose needs are particularly challenging for the educational and training system.

To this end, we conducted an exploratory analysis of the scientific literature by using the key words technique and interrogating some Online Databases and international search engines. The measures adopted and described in the European Inventory on validation of non-formal and informal learning, show the importance of ensuring that recognition services must also be integrated with other forms of access to studies and employment, as migrant people «are not a uniform group, but very complex and heterogeneous» (Clayton, 2005; Sainsbury, 2006; Souto-Otero and Villalba-Garcia, 2015, p. 596).

Furthermore, the literature review shed light on the importance of guaranteeing a more fruitful dialogue between local governments and civil society, together with the need of specific measures supporting tertiary education, especially towards young refugees, as several Italian Universities have already experimented by enhancing informal education and skills acquired in non-formal contexts.


Clayton, P. (2005). Blank slates or hidden treasure? Assessing and building on the experiential learning of migrant and refugee women in European countries. International Journal of Lifelong Education, 24 (3), 227–242.

Council of the European Union. (2012, December 20). Recommendation of the Council of the European Union. Retrieved from

Merico, M., Scardigno AF (2020). Re-emergencies. No-schooling in the days of COVID-19. Bologna: Il Mulino, 1-8. ISSN 1129-731X. DOI 10.12828 / 97101.

Murphy, I. (2019). European inventory on validation of non-formal and informal learning 2018 update. Thematic report: Validation of non-formal and informal learning for migrants and refugees.

Sainsbury, D. (2006). Immigrants' social rights in comparative perspective: Welfare regimes, forms in immigration and immigration policy regimes. Journal of European Social Policy, 16 (3), 229–244.

Souto-Otero, M., Villalba-Garcia, E. (2015). Migration and validation of non-formal and informal learning in Europe: Inclusion, exclusion or polarization in the recognition of skills? in International

Review of Education,61, 585–607


Orazio Giancola1, Luca Salmieri2

1Università di Roma "Sapienza", Italy; 2Università di Roma "Sapienza", Italy

The term “educational poverty” has been dealt with in numerous investigations in the field of sociology and economics of education (Allmendinger, 1989, 2016; Solga, 2002; Lohmann and Ferger, 2014; Pratesi et al., 2020). The multidimensional vision of poverty has led many authors to interpret basic competencies as an essential dimension of well-being, since they contribute to avoiding the risk of poverty and social exclusion, especially in terms of generating resources potentially capable of igniting personal empowerment (Stromquist, 2009; Nussbaum, 2010; Metcalf and Meadows, 2009).

Researchers from the NGO Save the Children (2014) provided a definition that describes educational poverty as the process of restricting children's right to education and depriving them of their opportunities to learn and develop the abilities they will need to be successful, in a rapidly changing society. Along with this discourse, educational poverty tends to reverberate itself through a vicious circle, passing from generation to generation and depriving adolescents of the effectual prospect to know, to be, to live together and to act (Corak, 2006).

We then present and discuss outcomes from a research comparing young Italian students at 15 years old and at 27-28 years old. The research aim is to understand if and at what extent educational poverty assessed at low secondary school resonates later at pre-adult age. By means of a pseudo-paneling technique, OECD-PISA waves 2000 and 2003 data on Italian students’ performances in basic competences have been linked to the OECD PIAAC 2013 data on Italians pre-adults’ performances in basic competences. In addition, we observed the effects of social origin on basic competences at "t0 - zero time" (first observation on PISA datasets) and at "t1 first time" (second observation on PIAAC dataset). Specifically, observed and compared basic competence are those captured by tests on literacy and numeracy in PISA and then in PIAAC (since the PISA operational definition of reading literacy coincides only partially with the PIAAC definition, operations of alignment have been inserted).
Following a pseudo-longitudinal approach, given the retrospective structure of the data collected, the analysis also allows to observe the effects on educational careers and on the risk of early school leaving and drop-out.
In our analysis, we framed whether social inequalities at the origins follow a trend of the type "systematic bias" (moderate deviations between origin and t0 produce increasing effects over time, that is at t1) or an accentuated widening of the gap based on ascribed variables (social origin, gender, migratory background, geographical location).
Ascribed variables have indeed a specific influence on basic competences at the two different observed stages. In addition, a substantial share of the Italian young population keeps on having poor basic competences from early stages (at school) to the pre-adult stages (when studies were completed), while another significant share even deteriorate those competences. This latter population has the greatest risks of being entrapped in a permanent status of educational poverty, with all the resulting multi-dimensional consequences.


Nadia Crescenzo

Università degli studi di Salerno, Italy

In the public debate that developed during the first phase of the pandemic, there was acute concern over the forced closure of educational institutions, also linked to the difficulty in finding spaces for teaching. On the contrary, the "indefinite" suspension of many (if not all) of the no schooling experiences - and, therefore, of the other "spaces" of education - has remained silent, practically ignored by the press and public institutions. Yet, the health emergency has severely limited - to the point of almost canceling - the opportunities for non-scholastic education for children, young people and their families: from sports, to recreational and recreational activities, up to all projects and actions that fall within the broader sector of non-formal and informal education.

On this basis, the paper aims to investigate three aspects.

In the first instance, through the presentation of the preliminary results of a background research, it intends to verify how some experiences of no schooling have been redefined during the pandemic, both in the practical dimension and in the necessary rethinking of the basic assumptions.

Secondly, it is proposed to verify the basic characteristics of some project interventions, including experimental and innovative, of non-formal and informal education developed during the pandemic period, albeit in accordance with the indications provided by the guidelines drawn up at the various levels of government.

Thirdly, it is proposed to present the preliminary results of a reasoned review of the debate (national and international) on the relationship between schooling and no schooling that took shape in the pandemic phase, to verify the challenges and problems identified.

In this direction, the health emergency seems (albeit implicitly) to bring to light an “old” debate, which developed from the 1970s onwards and which then found new impetus at the beginning of the new millennium: that on the importance of the experiences that take shape in what Mannheim would call the "educating society", or rather on the promotion of useful tools to offer a response to the social, cultural and educational needs (and requirements) of young people in a historical period in which the paradigms of flexibility and resilience play a decisive role.

The phase from which we are still struggling to re-emerge seems, that is, to reaffirm once again the "renewed" need - to take up the words of Lynne A. Chisholm (2008) - to "recontextualize" learning and to remodel the relationship between the different dimensions of education, emphasizing in particular the importance of focusing attention on the “times, opportunities, spaces and actors” of no schooling.

In a historical moment in which there has been a real unhinging of social relations, the operative hypothesis underlying the paper is to verify whether and to what extent the learning opportunities "outside the school" are able to offer children and young people the opportunity to acquire knowledge and develop skills and abilities capable of encouraging their participation and protagonism, as well as contributing to the formation of the individual character and regaining possession of the educational spaces following the health crisis due to COVID-19.




COVID-19 pandemic has trigged an educational crisis which has imposed a rethinking of traditional educational methods towards new teaching spaces and times. The reflection on disadvantage groups has assumed a crucial role in the scientific debate, requiring new perspectives of analysis. In the field of educational policies, the pandemic has imposed a macro-level redesign, requiring a review of existing programs, both at national and international level, in order to address the new needs arising. The paper aims at describing the remodelling of the “Young in & up” project which main goal is the inclusion of young people with a migratory background in school-VET alternation paths. The authors will develop a critical reflection on the new tools and strategies implemented by the partners, in order to face the new challenges rising from the pandemic. The study was conducted through qualitative tools and methods (focus group and evaluative brainstorming) in order to answer to different research questions. The results will offer a multilevel reading both from a pedagogical and organisational point of view, through students, teachers and stakeholder perspective.


Daniele Morciano, Anna Fausta Scardigno

University of Bari Aldo Moro, Italy

A diffused warning has been globally raised by international organizations on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on young people (e.g., United Nations, OECD). Concerns have been expressed for a possible lockdown generation particularly exposed to unemployment, more uncertain life trajectories and worsen wellbeing.

From a sociological perspective (Lucini, 2014), the resilience of the educational system to the pandemic disaster should not be intended as a restoring process of a previous equilibrium, but as the ability to activate new processes of reflective learning and innovation in order to contain damages and to take advantage of opportunities. There are at least three major challenges that the broader educational sector is called to face: (1) the social, psychological and educational impacts on more vulnerable youth groups; (2) the support to educational and work transitions in order to contain the scarring effects caused by the increased difficulties to enter in labour market or the early start of a precarious job career (Mousteri et al., 2018); (3) the creation of spaces of youth-adult cooperation to face the loss of inter-generational trust caused by the pandemic (Morciano, 2021).

The paper presents a preliminary research on how these challenges would be more effectively faced thanks to an improved cooperation between the youth work sector and the school system. The objective is to identify and discuss main potentials, limits and challenging issues toward jointed models of intervention based on the continuum between formal, non-formal and informal education/learning. To this end, the paper presents a review of the international research literature on a range of different topics: school-based youth work and youth work as a border pedagogy (Blackham and Smith, 2018); the frame of open education promoted by the European Union (dos Santos, 2016); first studies of projects oriented by the principles of “educating community” and “open school” which have become rather popular in Italy.

In conclusion, the paper discusses new possible research directions on the cooperation between youth work and schools in the face of the immediate and long-term impacts of the pandemic crisis. The discussion is also based on an exploratory mapping of possible case studies of cooperation during the Covid-19 emergence.


Blackham L., Smith J. (2018), Open Youth Work in a Closed Setting: Applying key elements of Youth Work in a school. International Journal of Open Youth work. Learning from practice, n.2, pp. 21-37

dos Santos A.I. (2016), Opening up Education. A Support Framework for Higher Education Institutions, report prepared for the Joint Research Centre, European Commission.

Lucini B. (2014) , Disaster Resilience from a Sociological Perspective. Exploring Three Italian Earthquakes as Models for Disaster Resilience Planning, Springer International Publishing

Morciano D. (2021), Youth work in Europa e in Italia. Conoscere per ri-conoscere l’animazione socioeducativa. Meltemi

Mousteri V., Daly M. & Delaney L. (2018) The scarring effect of unemployment on psychological wellbeing across Europe, Social Science Research, 72, pp. 146-169


Diego Mesa

Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Italia

The universal civil service is a proposal of the Italian State addressed to young people between 18 and 28 years of age to carry out an unarmed and non-violent defence service of the homeland and education for peace among peoples through actions for the community and the territory. An educational and training purpose is also envisaged about the civic, social, cultural and professional training of young people.

Although it is not an active labour policy intervention, some research showed how this measure contributes to training skills that are also useful for the labour market and to improve the employability of young people. The 2017 reform and the subsequent circulars have further accentuated the emphasis on the axis of training support also in the employment perspective. With the 2019 call for projects, the certification of skills acquired and tutoring activities aimed at the orientation and job placement of young people leaving the civil service were promoted.

The results of a three-year tutoring experiment carried out in northern Italy (Brescia) on 50 young people leaving the civil service are discussed. The experiment adopted an approach to guidance based on the model of socio-educational animation consistent with the overall structure of non-formal education activities provided for in the civil service. This model focuses on the construction of a trusting relationship and the promotion of personalised pathways, combining in a flexible way different orientation and activation tools to achieve the objectives identified by the young people. A team of sociologists and youth workers with experience in the field of orientation co-constructed the research path with the young people initially through individual work sessions and, later, also through small group workshops. The intervention was repeated to the contingents of the following years.

The methodological cornerstones of the project are: 1) the biographical interview, aimed at reconnecting and giving meaning to the various fragments of experience; 2) the development of action plans capable of mediating between dream and reality; 3) the analysis of the context, used to identify places of work that are attractive and similar to the values and the idea of work of the young people; 4) the accompaniment and support during the implementation of practical projects; 5) the direct intervention on the local network of businesses and third sector realities.

The accompaniment process allowed the researchers to analyse the biographies as they were being constructed, to map out the difficulties and limits that young people perceive about themselves and to a labour market that is often perceived as hyper-competitive, uninvolving and short-lived. At the same time, it highlighted the importance for young people of self-recognition of their history, the effectiveness of intergenerational comparison and the resource of the community and local networks. The course, during which some young people chose to resume their studies, highlighted i) the limitation of the current civil service tutoring guidelines, which are strongly unbalanced on work orientation ii) the need to develop an approach to mentoring coherent with the overall structure of the proposal or civil service.


Nunzia Vezzola

L'Associazione Istruzione Famigliare, Italia

Educational neuroscience shows that informal learning is led by the biological laws of learning processes: it’s the most natural and efficient way to provide quality knowledge and to improve cognitive and social skills, soft skills and executive functions. It also increases motivation, creativity and happiness and promotes life-long learning in the young person as well as in his/her living and social environment.

Infants and very young children naturally learn in this way.

If children are free to learn independently, if they are active protagonists of their learning process, formal or non-formal learning usually starts spontaneously from curiosity and creativity, which have been activated by an informal and experiential approach.

Informal education is typical for Homeschooling and Unschooling because they allow more flexibility than school in time and space management, in the choice and use of materials and contents; the learner in these cases is more active, involved and motivated; the catalyst of informal learning processes is the living environment together with the co-learning of children and parents.

On the other side, formal education typically takes place at school, because the learning times, spaces and contents are more restricted and formally structured, as they are separated from the complexity of the real world and outside of the learner’s decision spectrum. Formal learning is teacher-centred and oriented on labour market.

Pandemic has shown that through distance learning it’s possible to widen learning spaces, but this isn’t enough for a real integration between formal and informal education.

In North-America (U.S.A. and Canada) and in the United Kingdom, where governments recognize and support Homeschooling and Unschooling, the cooperation and integration between school and unschooling approaches is a usual practice: homeschoolers attend school part-time or on demand, they participate to school trips and workshops. This leads to a synergy among students, parents and teachers or educators.

In Italy, informal educational practices are mostly considered as an alternative to school and take place outside of it: education is either formal or non-formal. As homeschooling mother and public school teacher I experienced the limits of this opposition.

The increasing homeschooler and unschooler movement could help to balance the traditional predominance of formal education and its actors.

From the integration among all these options depends the future of education and youth in the future. Maybe it’s one of the few solutions of the educational crisis the pandemic has amplified.


Holt John, Learning all the time, Da Capo Press, 1989

Holt John, How children learn , Da Capo Press, 1995

Gray Peter, Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life, Basic Books, 2015

Robinson Veronika Sophia et al., Life Without School: The Quiet Revolution, Starflower Press, 2010

Piffero Elena, Io imparo da solo. L'apprendimento spontaneo e la filosofia dell'unschooling, Terra Nuova Edizioni, 2019

Vezzola Nunzia, Apprendimento naturale - Homeschooling e Unschooling, Armando Editore, 2020

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