Global Teacher Prize 2020: Indian teacher wins $1 million, shares it with fellow finalists

Image Source: Global Teacher Prize

32-year-old primary school teacher from Paritewadi village in Maharashtra’s Solapur district in India, Ranjitsinh Disale won the prestigious Global Teacher Prize 2020.

He was awarded the honour in recognition of his work that “transformed the life chances of young girls at the Zilla Parishad Primary School.”

Disale announced that he would share half the prize money with his fellow finalists to support their work and help them scale up their contributions to the field of education. This was the first time in the history of the award that the overall winner had shared the prize money with other finalists.

Disale arrived as a teacher at the Zilla Parishad Primary School in 2009, when it was a dilapidated building, sandwiched between a cattle shed and a storeroom. In this remote village, most of the students were from the tribal communities that did not prioritize education. Hence, school attendance could go as low as 2 per cent and teenage marriage was a fairly common phenomenon.

Disale put in massive efforts to change the way education was perceived by the community. He translated the class textbooks into his students’ mother tongue so that it would be easier for them to understand the content. Further, he embedded the textbooks with unique QR codes to give students access to engaging content such as audio poems, video lectures, stories and assignments. Subsequently, by analysing their reflections, Disale would change the content, activities and assignments in the QR coded textbooks to create a personalized learning experience for each student. Further to this, he upgraded the QR Coded Textbooks with immersive reader and Flipgrid tools to aid girls with special needs. This innovative system of QR Coded Textbooks is now used across India.

The results of all these efforts were incredible – teenage marriages in the village do not occur any more. Also, there is 100 per cent attendance by girls at the school. The school was also recently awarded the best school in the district with 85% of his students achieving A grades in annual exams.

Apart from teaching in the classroom, Disale also helps his students tackle real world problems effectively. For instance, his school has now successfully tackled the issue of desertification, increasing green land from 25% to 33% in the last ten years.

His “Let’s Cross the Borders” project connects young people from conflict zones such as India and Pakistan, Palestine and Israel, Iraq and Iran, and the United States and North Korea to promote world peace. The project lasts for six-weeks, whereby students are matched with a peace buddy from other countries with whom they closely interact to understand their similarities. Until now, Disale has inducted 19,000 students from eight countries into this initiative, promoting peace and brotherhood in the world.

He also goes beyond the call of his duty by demonstrating scientific experiments from the science lab he has built in his home. Official numbers from Microsoft show that Disale has taught a whopping 85,000 plus students from over 1400 classrooms in 83 countries via these virtual lessons!

To further his goal of educating more students, this teacher spends his weekends taking students from schools around the world with depleted resources on virtual field trips.

Disale was announced the winner from over 12,000 nominations and applications from over 140 nations from across the world.

The announcement of the winner was made from a virtual ceremony from the Natural History Museum in London, with comedian, actor, writer and presenter Stephen Fry announcing the winner.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed education and the communities it serves in a multitude of ways. But in this hard time, teachers are giving their best to make sure every student has access to their birthright of a good education.

Teachers are the real change-makers who are changing the lives of their students with a mixture of chalk and challenges. They always believe in giving and sharing.

And therefore, I am very pleased to announce that I will share 50% of the prize money equally among my fellow Top 10 finalists to support their incredible work. I believe, together, we can change this world because sharing is growing,” Disale said on being announced the winner.

What is the Global Teacher Prize?

The Global Teacher Prize is a US $1 million award presented annually to an exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to their profession. It was founded by the Varkey Foundation in 2014 to recognize and celebrate the impact that teachers have on their students and their communities.

Isn’t this a well-deserved award for Disale? Let us know what you think about this incredible teacher and his efforts in the comments section below.

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