Ranjitsinh Disale started his career in 2009 as a teacher. He took on the uphill task of turning around a dilapidated school building and overcame all odds to contribute to the profession.
How he contributed? With innovative teaching works that include demonstrating scientific experiments from the science lab built by him and adding QR codes to primary category books so that students can get links to audio poems, video lectures, assignments, and stories. His idea of incorporating QR codes into textbooks was later adopted by the National Council of Educational Research and Training. He also campaigned to eliminate adolescent marriages and encourage the education of girls, transforming the lives of many girls at Zilla Parishad Primary School in Paritewadi village in Solapur, Maharashtra.
For his tireless efforts, the Varkey Foundation awarded him $1 million and the Global Teacher Prize on 3 December, 2020. In a moment of wonder, Disale, in his speech, said that he will share half the prize money with his fellow finalists, resulting in the other nine receiving over $55,000 each for their ‘incredible work’.
“This is the first time in the Global Teacher Prize’s 6-year history that the overall winner has shared the prize money with other finalists,” the foundation said.
Disale was selected from 12,000 nominations and applications from over 140 countries around the world.
The prize recognizes one exceptional teacher who makes an outstanding contribution to the profession and shining a spotlight on the role teacher plays in society.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed the “creativity and ingenuity” of the winners and said, “Although I’m speaking to you in difficult and sometimes heartbreaking circumstances, it’s right that we take time to recognise the enormous contribution and sacrifice of the world’s teachers during this pandemic.”
The devotion with which the 32-year-old educator has promoting education among the students with most in need of a push in India — the underprivileged and girls — is rare and worthy of recognition.
For Disale, the biggest hurdle was language. He used his creative mindset, translated the textbooks into their mother tongue, and embedded the books with unique QR codes. His school boasted of 100% attendance of girls, and the village recorded zero teenage marriage.
Disale has also been using international online platforms to connect young people to advocate peace across conflict zones in India and Pakistan, Palestine and Israel, Iraq and Iran, and the US and North Korea. In another project, he helps students from schools who lack resources by taking them on virtual field trips.
Even in receiving the coveted award, the teacher has set a new ‘teach, don’t preach’ goal.
“There is yet hope for a safe tomorrow, one that will better tackle critical problems like climate change, conflict, and pandemics,” says the Varkey Foundation rightly about Ranjitsinh Disale for his work and gesture.