Ranjitsinh Disale, a 23-year-old Zilla Parishad primary school teacher from Paritewadi, a tiny village with less than 2,000 population in Maharashtra’s Solapur district, was recognised for his efforts to promote girls’ education and trigger a quick-response (QR) coded textbook revolution in India. His determination to inject new ideas into teaching, make teachers’ voice heard and won him coveted USD 1 million Global Teacher Prize. He beat 12,000 others from across the world for the award. Global Teacher Prize 2020 is a private foundation partnered by UNESCO.
Ranjitsinh left his engineering course midway because of bullying and ragging, but this did not break his faith in the education system. Instead, he chose to become a teacher to better it and bring a change in children’s lives. He has announced that he would share 50 per cent of the prize money equally among his fellow finalists.
Indeed, the devotion with which the 32-year-old educator has been working on his vision of promoting education among the category of students most in need of a push in India — the underprivileged and girls — is a rarity and worthy of recognition. Since 2009, when he started his career by taking on the task of turning around the dilapidated school building, the talented teacher has overcome all odds to contribute to the profession and add multi-hued feathers to his cap.
Realising that language was the major hurdle in the humble setting, Ranjitsinh used his creative and scientific mindset to ensure that the poor pupils did not suffer. He translated the textbooks into their mother tongue and embedded the books with unique QR codes to give students access to audio poems, video lectures, stories and assignments. With this, the twin challenges of our society were taken care of: his school boasted of 100 per cent attendance of girls and the village recorded zero teenage marriage.
Not resting on local laurels, Ranjitsinh has been using international online platforms to connect young people with the aim of advocating peace across conflict zones in India and Pakistan, Palestine and Israel, Iraq and Iran, and the US and North Korea. Through another project, he helps students from schools lacking in 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: Disale has announced that he would share half of his reward money with the other finalists to support their ‘incredible work’. With such exemplary people and their inspiring acts, as the foundation rightly said, there is yet hope for a safe tomorrow, one that will better tackle critical problems like climate change, conflict and pandemics.
Since winning the award, Ranjitsinh’s name has been trending on social media and he has got congratulatory messages from celebrities including Amitabh Bachchan but he is most excited to celebrate the achievement with his students in Paritewadi. 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.