Global Teacher Prize winner Ranjitsinh Disale bats for girls education

Global Teacher Prize winner Ranjitsinh Disale bats for girls education

Global Teacher Prize 2020 winner Ranjitsinh Disale has issued a clarion call for world leaders to prioritise girls’ education to prevent the Covid-19 pandemic undoing progress across countries.

The Malala Fund estimates that 20 million girls in developing countries may never return to the classroom following pandemic school closures.

Disale said: “I now fear that a generation of girls will never return to school and we could even see a global rise in teenage marriages and pregnancies. This is something I worked hard to turn around at my own village school over many years.

“It will take a long time to reverse the devastating effects of the pandemic unless world leaders prioritise girls' education and take action now.”

Tech textbooks

Disale, a primary schoolteacher from the village of Paritewadi in Solapur district of Maharashtra who had bagged the $1-million annual prize to further boost his teaching mission, highlighted the crucial role tech companies can play in keeping girls engaged in learning during the pandemic, using UK-based education technology firm Pappaya’s donation of tablets and electronic whiteboards to his remote rural village school as an example.

Sindhu Kathikeyan, CEO of Pappaya, said: “We were incredibly impressed by Ranjitsinh Disale's imaginative uses of technology to deliver great learning outcomes for his students.

“We are delighted to play our part in supporting his efforts and his call for governments to really support girls’ education is both heartfelt and timely.”

Other companies who have come on board to help out with the village school include Garware, who have helped renovate the building and provide benches to make classrooms more Covid-secure. The firm also helped with the provision of purified water and solar electricity to reduce the school’s reliance on mains electricity and generate green power.

Diya Garware Ibanez, Chairperson of the Garware Bestretch Social Foundation, said: “We are truly impressed by the passionate and innovative work of Mr Ranjitsinh Disale in promoting children’s education in India.

“It’s incredible what he’s been able to achieve and the impact he’s created, especially with such limited resources.”

The State Bank of India (SBI) is another Indian company to get involved, donating a solar power unit to ensure continuous supply at his school.

Aabidur Rhaman, Deputy General Manager at SBI, said: “We need teachers like him who are shaping the future of India.”

Greener and Covid-secure

Disale said such gestures will help make a world of difference to his school and students, who will benefit from a "greener, more hygienic, more attractive and more Covid-secure" learning environment when they return to the classroom.

He was crowned the winner from thousands of worldwide nominations for the Global Teacher Prize in December 2020, founded by the Varkey Foundation and held in partnership with Unesco, in recognition of his efforts to promote girls’ education and trigger a quick-response (QR) coded textbook revolution in India. He is credited with transforming the life chances of young girls at the Zilla Parishad Primary School at Paritewadi in Solapur and beyond.

When he first set out on his mission, most girls at his school were from tribal communities where school attendance could sometimes be as low as 2 per cent and teenage marriage was common. The QR coded textbooks he introduced helped create a personalised learning experience for each student.

He recalls: “I was also able to aid girls with special needs by upgrading the QR-coded textbooks with immersive reader and Flipgrid tools. Over time, these interventions and more helped to turn the school around.

“There are now no teenage marriages in the village and 100 per cent attendance by girls at the school. One girl from the village has now graduated from university, something I am very proud of.”

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