“I may have won the award but I can’t change the world alone, one Ranjitsinh Disale can’t do it on his own. And that’s why I decided to get more hands on board.” This is how Disale, a 32-year-old Zilla Parishad primary school teacher from Solapur’s Paritewadi village, put it, when asked about the half a million dollars of prize money that he has decided to share with the runners-up of the contest that he won.
Disale, who was adjudged the ‘world’s most exceptional teacher’ at the annual Global Teacher Prize 2020, won prize money of US$ 1 million, half of which he shared equally with each of the nine other teachers who made it to the top 10.
“It would be unfair to take it all alone… look at their work, it’s exceptional. I believe teachers can bring real change and I want each one of us to get an equal chance to do so,” he said.
The Global Teacher Prize is an annual award instituted by the Varkey Foundation. It is awarded to a teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession. Launched in 2014, nominations are open worldwide to teachers. This year, there were 12,000 nominations from across the world for the award.
After applying for the award, Disale went through a long procedure and was selected to the top 100. Disale faced interviews, audit and verification by PWC and other third party agencies. He said it has been several months since the process started.
Disale, who attended the online awards ceremony from his ancestral home in Solapur, broke out in tears and hugged his parents and one-month-old infant after being announced the winner.
An engineering dropout, Disale had taken up the teacher’s training course on his father’s advice, to see if he would like it. He did and stayed on to complete it, joining the ZP primary school in the drought-prone village of Paritewadi about 11 years ago.
It was at this dilapidated school building, which has about 110 students and five teachers’ teaching students from Class I to IV, where Disale started his project of promoting girls’ education and triggering a quick-response (QR)-coded textbook revolution, which soon spread from the district to the state, and then to the entire country.
He began by translating textbooks into the pupils’ mother tongue. But his groundbreaking work was embedding these textbooks with unique QR codes, which students could scan and then get instant access to audio poems, video lectures, stories and assignments. Learning became fun and interactive, and one of the results was winning the award for being the best school in the district, with 100 per cent attendance.
In 2017, the Maharashtra government announced plans to introduce QR-coded textbooks across the state for all grades. In 2018, the Union Human Resources Development Ministry announced that all National Council of Education Research and Training (NCERT) textbooks will have embedded QR codes.
Disale, who earns Rs 32,000 per month, says his needs are few and the prize money would go towards establishing a Teachers Innovation Fund, which will help teachers like him fund ideas for the future of children. “I want to give every teacher an opportunity to make a change,” he said.
This is not the first international recognition for Disale. He has earlier been recognised by Microsoft as the Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert, and also won the National Innovation Foundation’s Innovator of the Year Award in 2018.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines