Learning can be seen as an informal, everyday phenomenon; as a formal, systematised process; or (lying somewhere along an informal-formal spectrum) as a more flexibly-planned and organised ‘non-formal’ activity. Studies of diverse contexts highlight the dynamics of everyday learning and its importance to various communities – something that is often overlooked in research focusing on the formal sector. This is perhaps especially true in societies, such as those of South Asia, where access to institutions of formal education remains highly problematic for many. It is also especially true in situations, such as that of the Coronavirus pandemic of 2020-2021, which require the widespread closure of formal educational institutions and their transfer ‘online’. Realising the potential for life-long learning everywhere depends on understanding how informal learning complements and shapes learning in more formal settings. Comparative perspectives are crucial to an analysis of how different forms of learning interact in different social and cultural contexts, and therefore to efforts to render education more relevant and accessible to various social groups. As a forum for exchanging comparative insights (especially, but not only, in relation to Asia), the 12th Biennial CESA Conference will contribute to bridging the gulf between studies of formal and informal learning.