London, Mar 31 (PTI) Global Teacher Prize 2020 winner Ranjitsinh Disale on Wednesday called on world leaders to prioritise girls’ education to prevent the COVID-19 pandemic from undoing the progress made in the realm of equitable access to education across countries.
Disale, a primary school teacher from the village of Paritewadi in Solapur district of Maharashtra who bagged the USD 1-million annual prize, highlighted the crucial role technology companies can play in keeping girls engaged in learning during the pandemic, using UK edtech firm Pappaya’s donation of tablets and electronic whiteboards to his remote rural village school as an example.
“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,” he said, pointing to Malala Fund estimates that 20 million girls in developing countries may never return to the classroom following pandemic school closures.
“It will take a long time to reverse the devastating effects of the pandemic unless world leaders prioritise girls'' education and take action now,” said the schoolteacher.
He was crowned the winner in December 2020 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.
“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,” said Sindhu Kathikeyan, CEO of Pappaya.
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.
“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,” said Diya Garware Ibanez, Chairperson of the Garware Bestretch Social Foundation.
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.
“We need teachers like him who are shaping the future of India,” said Aabidur Rhaman, Deputy General Manager at SBI.
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.
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. 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.
“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,” he said. PTI AK IND