Ranjitsinh Disale said he will share 50% of $1 million prize money equally among the top 10 finalists to support their work.

Ranjitsinh Disale, winner of the global teacher prize 2020, celebrates as he is announced the winner
news Award Friday, December 04, 2020 - 15:11

Ranjitsinh Disale jumped from his chair and let out a cry of joy as he was announced the winner of the Global Teacher Award 2020. Flanked by his parents on both sides, the Maharashtra-based primary school teacher hugged his mother as the excitement of winning the award was yet to sink in. The proud parents called the other members of the family to join the celebration at the virtual ceremony broadcast from the Natural History Museum in London. Ranjitsinh was among the 10 top finalists from across the globe to win the $1 million (over Rs 7 crore) prize award for promoting education among the girls from tribal communities studying at the Zilla Parishad Primary School in Maharashtra’s Solapur, which borders Karnataka. He has also translated textbooks for students whose primary language is Kannada. 

Interestingly, Disale announced that he will share half the prize money with the nine finalists, making it the first time in the history of Global Teacher Prize that the overall winner has shared the prize money with other finalists. With this, the other nine finalists are said to receive over US$55,000 each. “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” said Ranjitsinh in his speech.

The Global Teacher prize 2020, an award in partnership with UNESCO, is an annual prize founded by the Varkey Foundation in 2014, to recognise an exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession as well as to shine a spotlight on the important role teachers play in society.

The Zilla Parishad school was a dilapidated building when Ranjitsinh joined in 2009. The attendance of most of the girls from tribal communities was as low as 2% and teenage marriages were common. Adding to woes of the students whose primary language was Kannada, the textbooks in Marathi left them unable to read and learn at all. Ranjitsinh decided to change their lives for good. 

He learnt Kannada and translated the textbook into the students’ mother tongue. He also embedded them with unique QR codes, enabling students to learn from audio poems, video lectures, stories and assignments. To make learning more personalised, he would change the content and activities in the QR coded textbooks by analysing their reflections. To aid girls with learning disabilities, he further upgraded the QR Coded textbooks with the immersive reader and Flipgrid tools.  

Following the success of this model across the state of Maharashtra, in 2018, Prakash Javadekar, the then Minister of Human Resource Development had announced that all NCERT textbooks would have QR Codes embedded in them. The Zilla Parishad school was also awarded the best school in the district with 85% of the students scoring A grades in annual exams.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed education and 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," Disale said in his winning speech.

The incumbent CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella had recognised Ranjitsinh as one of the three stories from India in his 2017 book ‘Hit Refresh’.

Watch Host and comedian Stephen Fry interacting with Ranjitsinh Disale:

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