Winner of Global Teacher Prize has revolutionized schooling -- and entire lives -- in rural India.
His name means “victorious on the battlefield” — a perfect description of his story. Ranjitsinh Disale, a 32-year-old teacher in India, was awarded the 2020 The Global Teacher Prize. The prize initiative was organized by the Varkey Foundation in London with UNESCO.
Disale will receive a $1 million prize, and he has decided to split half of that amount among the other finalists for the prize. Times Now News reports,
Per The Hindu report, Disale said, “Teachers are the real change-makers who are changing the lives of their students with a mixture of chalk and challenges. They always believe in giving and sharing. And, therefore, I am very pleased to announce that I will share 50% of the prize money equally among my fellow top 10 finalists to support their incredible work. I believe, together, we can change this world because sharing is growing.”
When Ranjitsihn arrived at the Zilla Parishad Primary School in 2009, it was “a dilapidated building, sandwiched between a cattle shed and a storeroom,” according to his Global Teacher Prize webpage. The population he was meant to serve consisted of 2,000 people scattered among the fields and pastures of Maharashtra in the state of Mumbai.
The area of Maharashtra where Ranjitsinh undertook his educational work is predominantly rural and plagued by drought. Families were completely uninterested in the education of their children, most of whom were employed in labor.
From an early age, the boys took the cattle out to pasture and the girls took care of household chores. Only 2% of the children went to school, and the girls married at the age of 12.
The drought not only affected fields that needed to be irrigated, but also the lives of the people, who were not used to seeing any value in education. In
a video on his YouTube channel
, Ranjitsinh recounts: “I came to the conclusion that I had to start from scratch. To initiate change in these kids, I must transform the parental attitude of indifference towards education.”
And so the first big educational step was taken outside the school building. The teacher wanted to get to know the families, and understand their lives and habits.
In time, he came to suggest cultivation techniques for the fields that would guarantee them a good yield, without the use of child labor. Ranjitsinh spent half of the first school year picking up his students one by one from the fields and bringing them to class.