He transformed the lives of the girls at his school in India, and now by sharing his prize money he will transform the lives of nine other teachers around the world…

On Thursday, Ranjitsinh Disale, a primary school teacher from Zilla Parishad Primary School, Paritewadi, Solapur, Maharashtra, was announced as the winner of the US$1 million Global Teacher Prize 2020.

The virtual ceremony was broadcast from London’s Natural History Museum where some of the world’s most inspiring and creative teachers were celebrated for their efforts to change the lives of their pupils.

The deserving winner, Mr Disale, helped to elevate the lives of young women in the village where he taught. According to a Global Teacher Prize statement, “When Ranjitsinh arrived at the Zilla Parishad Primary School in 2009 it was a dilapidated building, sandwiched between a cattle shed and a storeroom.”

School attendance was sometimes as low as 2%, and teen marriages were common. The curriculum was also not in the students’ home language.

Subscribe to our Free Daily All4Women Newsletter to enter

Mr Disale translated the textbooks for his learners, and embedded them with unique QR codes to give students access to audio poems, video lectures, stories and assignments. These are just a few of the interventions he put in place to help improve the lives of his learners.

“The impact of Ranjitsinh’s interventions has been extraordinary: there are now no teenage marriages in the village and 100 per cent attendance by girls at the school. The school was also recently awarded the best school in the district with 85% of his students achieving A grades in annual exams. One girl from the village has now graduated from University, something seen as an impossible dream before Ranjitsinh arrived,” said the statement.

Impacting teachers’ lives too

Not only has Mr Disale give hope to his students, he also announced that he would be sharing half of his Global Teacher Prize winnings with the other top nine finalists. This means that each finalist will receive just over US$55,000 each (around R836k)!

This is the first time in the Global Teacher Prize’s six-year history that the overall winner has shared the prize money with other finalists.

One of the top nine included South African foundation phase teacher, Mokhudu Cynthia Machaba

Machaba is from Ngwanamago Primary School in Polokwane. She praised Mr Disale’s incredible generosity.

“Such a huge gesture shows the world what an exemplary and selfless individual Ranjit is. There could be no better role model for teachers than Ranjit.”

“In the year of COVID, which has brought unimaginable challenges to teachers across the world, he is a shining symbol of the incredible work that teachers do. It is why I and the other finalists are so proud to call him our friend. Thank you Ranjit.”

Mokhudu Cynthia Machaba is also an incredibly inspiring figure in education.

She faced a lot of challenges on her path to becoming a teacher. From walking over 7km to school, often without shoes, as a child, to becoming a teen mom. Machaba worked as a domestic worker in order to put herself through technical college and achieve a teaching qualification from the Soweto College of Education.

She was jobless for five years before she eventually found a teaching post – 75km away from home!

Her mission is to provide as much technical support for her students as possible so that they have access to all the information they need to succeed in the world.

She has secured laptops for the students at her school, and introduced them to Coding Week by using Minecraft as an introduction.

She’s been recognised as one of 50 Inspiring Women in Tech for South Africa.

Her dream is to develop a centre where young people can learn entrepreneurial skills and robotics – catching up with their peers across the world and creating global citizens.

On winning the Global Teacher Prize 2020, Ranjitsinh Disale said:

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed education and the communities it serves in a multitude of ways. But in this hard time, teachers are giving their best to make sure every student has access to their birthright of a good education.

“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”.

To join the conversation online follow #TeachersMatter on:

  • YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/talkingeducation
  • Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/teacherprize/
  • Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/teacherprize
  • Twitter: https://twitter.com/TeacherPrize + https://twitter.com/VarkeyFdn