Teachers’ voice must be heard and amplified: Global Teacher Prize recipient Ranjitsinh Disale – education

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Ranjitsinh Disale left his engineering class lesson halfway on account of bullying and ragging, but this did not break his faith in the education system. Instead, he chose to grow to be a teacher to better it and bring a change in children’s lives.

His determination to inject new ideas into teaching, make teachers’ voice heard and serve the community won the 32-year-old primary school teacher from Maharashtra the coveted USD 1 million Global Teacher Prize.

“I left engineering halfway as I could not maintain bullying and ragging. I don’t have any regrets at all. I am fortunate that I chose teaching and could bring change in students lives,” said Disale, who whip 12,000 others from across the world for the award.

The Zilla Parishad primary school teacher from Paritewadi, a tiny village with less than 2,000 population in Maharashtra’s Solapur district, used to be recognised for his efforts to raise girls’ education and trigger a quick-response (QR) coded textbook revolution in India.

He has announced that he would share 50 per cent of the prize money equally among his fellow finalists.

Speaking to PTI over phone from his home in Solapur, Disale said, “I am thankful to the Varkey Foundation and UNESCO for giving recognition to teachers in any such big way.” “But even so the prize money, there is enormous prestige that is hooked up to this award. I feel proud to be the first Indian to get it,” he said.

Disale does not need to leave Paritewadi from where his quick-response (QR)-coded textbook revolution spread to all the state, and then to all the country.

“I am a teacher and I can be a teacher for my whole life now. I dedicate my award to all of the teachers worldwide. I firmly consider that the government, all stakeholders and teachers must work in tandem to cause change in the education sector. Whether we all work together, we will be able to recover results,” he said. “Teachers who are doing good work must be recognised in order that they get motivated to do something different. Their voice must be heard, respected and amplified,” Disale said.

There are lots of challenges in the education sector and these will also be addressed whether all of the stakeholders work together, he said.

“Girls’ education is a major issue. Dropout is another one. There are such a large amount of challenges in this sector. Teachers have solutions and ground level experience. I will say this on the basis of my personal experience. I shared my idea with the government (QR code revolution) and they implemented it and a major change used to be brought. I am hopeful that there are lots of like me who have new ideas which must be heard,” the Global Teacher Prize recipient said.

Asked approximately his decision to share the prize money with the runners-up of the contest, he said that it used to be pre-determined.

“When you apply for this award, it’s important to mention that how are you going to spend the money. So, it used to be a pre-decided object, and I have not taken this decision spontaneously or in wake of an emotional outpour,” Disale said.

Teachers work for outcome, not for income, and these teachers are doing tremendous work and they must also get the reward, he said. “I want them to feel like winners and be equally happy,” Disale said, adding that this used to be his second attempt for the award and the process got delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The process included interviews, an audit and verification by PWC and other agencies.

““I used to be rejected in my first attempt when one of my in another country friends nominated me. Then she told me to apply again. It used to be a lengthy process and took nearly a year because of the pandemic. I have gone through interviews and showed my work in detail. I think it used to be my overall profile, not a unmarried aspect that got me the award,” he said.

This isn’t 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.

Disale would also donate one of the prize money to set up a Teachers Innovation Fund, which will help teachers like him bring ideas for students.

Since winning the award, Disale’s name has been trending on social media and he has got congratulatory messages from celebrities including Amitabh Bachchan but he’s most excited to celebrate the achievement with his students in Paritewadi.

“I’m going to meet them on Sunday and will celebrate with them. I have already shared the news with them and they’re too happy. Now I need to see the happiness on their face,” Disale said.

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