Home From The Sidelines Indian Zila Parishad Teacher Ranjitsinh Disale Awarded The Global Teacher Prize 2020

Indian Zila Parishad Teacher Ranjitsinh Disale Awarded The Global Teacher Prize 2020

December 4, 2020:  Ranjitsinh Disale, an Indian Zila Parishad Primary School teacher from Paritewadi, Solapur, Maharashtra has been awarded 2020 Global Teacher Prize. The US $1 million Global Teacher Prize is awarded annually to an “exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to their profession.” This is the first time an Indian has been awarded the prize. 

British actor Stephen Fry announced the award in a virtual ceremony hosted by the Natural History Museum in London on December 3. 10 finalists were selected this year from over 12,000 applications and nominations from over 140 countries around the world. The prize was founded in 2014 by the Varkey Foundation and is organized in partnership with UNESCO. 

After receiving the prize, Mr Disale announced that he will share half of his prize with 9 other finalists. 

“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,” he said.

Like many in India, Ranjitsinh initially wanted to be an IT engineer, but his father suggested teacher training as an alternative after engineering college did not work out as Ranjitsinh anticipated. Initially he was hesitant to become a teacher, but his time in teacher training college transformed him and he realised the potential of teachers as real change-makers in the world. 

Mr Ranjit Disale has transformed the village of Paritewadi by using technology to bring quality education to the children in the village. When he arrived at the school in 2009, it was nothing more than a storeroom with attendance at school sometimes dropping as low as 2 per cent. Teenage marriage was also common in the village.With Mr Disale’s efforts the teenage marriages have stopped and the attendance in school has reached 100 per cent. 

To encourage children to attend school, he translated the textbooks in the mother tongue (Kannada) of the children. He also introduced QR coded textbooks to enable access to audio poems, video lectures, stories and assignments to the students. He utilised these QR coded textbooks to personalise the learning experience of each student and also used immersive reader and Flipgrid tools to aid girls with special needs. His efforts were recognised by the state of Maharashtra and after a successful pilot scheme, the Government of Maharashtra announced in 2017 that they would introduce QR coded textbooks across the state for all grades from 1 to 12. The success of the initiative stimulated the union HRD Ministry of India to study the impact of QR Coded Textbooks and how this can be scaled up nationally. In 2018, union HRD Minister Hon. Prakash Javdekar announced that all NCERT textbooks would have embedded QR Codes.

He initiated ‘Let’s Cross the Borders’, a six week program that virtually connects young people from India and Pakistan, Palestine and Israel, Iraq and Iran and USA and North Korea. Using Microsoft Educator Community platform, Mr Disale takes students from schools around the world with depleted resources on virtual field trips.

He also contributed to tackling the issue of desertification since the village is in a drought affected area. In the last 10 years, green land has increased from 25 per cent to 33 percent and approximately 250 hectares of land surrounding his village was saved from desertification. This initiative earned his school the ‘Wipro Nature for Society’ award in 2018. 

Mr Disale has received numerous accolades for his inspiring work. In 2016, he won the innovative researcher of the year award from the Government of India. In 2017, CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, recognized Mr Disale for his work in his book ‘Hit Refresh’. He also won the National Innovation Foundation’s Innovator of the Year award in 2018.