Indian teacher wins global prize for promoting girls' education

Zilla Parishad Primary School teacher Ranjitsinh Disale. [Courtesy]

Ranjitsinh Disale, a primary school teacher in India is this year’s winner of the prestigious Global Teacher Prize.

Disale, who developed quick-response coded textbooks for his pupils, emerged the world's best teacher, winning an Sh111 million in prize money.

This year's winner of the 2020 Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize was announced at a virtual event held today.

Considered the Nobel of teachers, the annual award is given to an educator who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession.

He now replaces Peter Mokaya Tabichi, a mathematics and physics teacher at Keriko Mixed Day Secondary School in Nakuru County who won the award last year.

Tabichi not only broke history as the first African teacher to bag the much-converted award but also broke the record as the first-ever male teacher to win the Sh100 million award.

He was recently conferred the 2020 Ahimsa Award by the Trustees of the Institute of Jainology in London for selfless action and compassion.

Mr Disale, the new winner, has been praised for championing the girl child education in rural India and embracing the use of technology in teaching.

"This is such a great honour. I am receiving this award on behalf of millions who students and teachers who are working hard in these hard times of Covid," said Mr Ranjitsinh.

"Teachers are change-makers. They change the lives of students all over the world," he added.

Mr Disale was selected from more than 12,000 nominations and applications from 140 countries.

Mr Disale taught in a class that was sandwiched between a cattle shed and a storeroom in an area that teenage marriage was prevalent.

"The curriculum was not in the students' primary language (Kannada), which meant that many students were unable to achieve expected learning outcomes. After putting in a great deal of effort, Ranjitsinh learned Kannada," said Varkey Foundation.

Mr Disale is also credited with redesigning all the textbooks of grades 1-4 for better comprehension, along with unique QR codes that embedded audio poems, video lectures, stories and assignments in Kannada.

As a result of his efforts, the school was awarded Best School for the district in 2016, the foundation said, adding that 98 per cent of the girls completed school.

Mr Disale packs an impressive CV having been awarded 2016 Innovative Researcher of the Year in India and the National Innovation Foundation's Innovator of the Year award in 2018

The 31-year-old says he will share 50 per cent of his prize money with the other nine finalists including a Nigerian and a South African.

He also plans to launch an initiative to ensure that each year at least 5000 students from war-afflicted countries are recruited into a Peace Army.