Maharashtra Village School Teacher In Final 10 For $1 Million Global Teacher Prize
Ranjitsinh Disale using Skype with students. (Image: Microsoft News Centre India)

Maharashtra Village School Teacher In Final 10 For $1 Million Global Teacher Prize

Ranjitsinh Disale is an accidental teacher. He aspired to be an engineer but when that didn’t work out his father suggested he try training as a teacher. And now he’s in the reckoning for a million dollars, according to information on the Global Teacher Prize website.

The primary school teacher from a village in Maharashtra has made an entry to the list of top 10 finalists for the $1 million annual Global Teacher Prize 2020, in recognition of his efforts at promoting girls' education and triggering a quick-response (QR) coded textbook revolution in India.

Disale, 31, arrived at the Zilla Parishad Primary School in Paritewadi village in Solapur district in 2009 when it was a dilapidated building, sandwiched between a cattleshed and a storeroom, the website says. The students were mostly from tribal communities and struggled with the curriculum as it was not in their primary language Kannada.

Disale learnt the language and redesigned the textbooks, adding unique QR codes to give students access to audio poems, video lectures, stories and assignments.

The impact of his interventions has been that there are now no teenage marriages in the village and 100% attendance of girls at the school.

Disale has received much recognition for his efforts. His story has been widely covered in the Indian media and the Chief Executive of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, recognised Disale’s work as one of three stories from India in his book Hit Refresh. He also featured in Microsoft’s innovative educator experts program.

Disale's school was the first in Maharashtra to introduce QR codes and after submitting a proposal and successful pilot scheme, the state ministry announced in 2017 that they would introduce QR coded textbooks across the state for all grades.

In 2018, the human resources development ministry announced that all the National Council of Education Research and Training (NCERT) textbooks would have embedded QR codes.

Stefania Giannini, Assistant Director General for Education at UNESCO, hopes that Disale's story will inspire those looking to enter the teaching profession and also highlight the incredible work teachers do all over India and throughout the world every day.

"The Global Teacher Prize helps put the teacher voice at the heart of our mission to champion inclusive learning opportunities for children and young people all over the world, especially the most marginalised and disadvantaged, during this sudden and unprecedented disruption to global education, she said.

Disale joins Olasunkanmi Opeifa (Nigeria), Jamie Frost (U.K.), Carlo Mazzone (Italy), Mokhudu Cynthia Machaba (South Africa), Leah Juelke (U.S.) and Yun Jeong-hyun (South Korea) among the top 10 finalists.

The remaining three top 10 finalists will be announced one each week in the run up to the Global Teacher Prize ceremony, which will be virtual for the very first time in its history due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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