Kalikayatna, a Kannada word meaning 'a learning initiative,' stands for an overarching approach to learning. It supports and advocates any learning method and structure that works in meeting learning outcomes of children based on two premises – that it should support children's learning styles to help them build on their innate capabilities and that it should support in achieving capability based learning outcomes as determined by all concerned stakeholders.

Kalikayatna was initiated in 2005 in the Bilikere cluster of Mysore District as a collaborative Research and Evaluation project of the Sarva Shikshana Abhiyan (Karnataka) and Prajayatna. In the year 2016-17, it has been under implementation in 2 states of Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka.

The intent of the approach is to facilitate and support children's learning in a manner that they are able to apply what they learn in school to the various real life situations. At a primary stage the approach focuses on 'learning how to learn' which in turn emphasizes building of abilities of children – like abilities to create, evaluate, recall, analyze, remember, understand and apply – to be adaptive learners throughout their lives.

Kalikayatna was initiated as a response to the traditional system of education. Despite the growing concerns and the focus brought on by all stakeholders, we continue to experience poor learning levels amongst large number of our children. While accessibility has increased and more number of children is being enrolled to younger classes there is greater need for growth indicative of children's learning levels. In fact students who score well on standardized tests often are unable to successfully integrate memorized facts and formulae with real life applications outside the classroom. The traditional system which is so mired in conceiving a narrow view of intelligence, focusing on the ability to recall, emphasizing on transfer of information and only on preparation of examinations, needed a complete redefinition.

The various aspects being redefined are:

Integration of Subjects

An integrated curriculum from Grade 1-5 means that concepts, whether they be of mathematics or of environmental sciences are facilitated based on processes that support the child to engage with these concepts. The entire experience is so designed that children are supported to recognize their abilities. The threat of an exam does not loom large and the attempt is to focus on learner-based outcomes and individually paced learning.

Collaborative Learning

Having grades 1-5 learn with each other as a mixed age group works in interesting ways. This helps children explore concepts and not be restricted to it being a “4th-grade question’ or a “3rd-grade chapter”. The focus is on getting the children to learn from each other, thus creating a secure environment that encourages peer- engagement and values individual strengths.

Assessment

The lack of exams does not mean that there is no assessment. In fact, if anything, it is the way one perceives assessment – what and how of it – that drives the learning process. Assessment in Kalikayatna is ongoing and happens simultaneously with the learning process. This creates a clear drive in the child to genuinely learn to result in building a comprehensive set of abilities that have relevance in the real world.

Teachers Collective

All this is made possible by a teachers’ collective that is constantly innovating on newer ways to facilitate learning such that it is made most effective.