Ranjitsinh Disale isn’t just an ordinary teacher, he is an inspiration for generations of people who want to step out of their comfort zones and contribute to the society in ways that are life-changing and empowering. He has received the ‘Global Teacher Prize’ this year for his remarkable contributions towards the education and emancipation of girls belonging to the poor and marginalised tribal communities of Paritewadi region in Maharashtra. Outside the well-facilitated and elitist schools of the urban areas and leaving the comforts and luxuries of a handsome salary and a comfortable lifestyle adorned with the amenities offered by modernity, young Ranjitsinh Disale decided to dedicate his life to the education and emancipation of poor tribal girls in Maharashtra in an ordinary government run school.
He starting his teaching career at a local school in Maharashtra’s Paritewadi in 2009 where children from the poor tribal communities were enrolled. The school where Ranjitsinh taught was nothing but an insignificant and dilapidated building and attendance was scanty if not altogether absent. What characterised the community whose children he was teaching was the malaise of child marriage and thereby education was seldom seen as a priority or a necessity.
He has now been honoured for “transforming the life chances” of the girls at the Zilla Parishad Primary School where he has been teaching the tribal girls since 2009. The announcement of the prize was made by actor and writer Stephen Fry at a virtually conducted ceremony which was broadcasted from the National History Museum in London.
An excited and overwhelmed Disale heard the news amid his family and well-wishers back home in India.
The Remarkable Story of Ranjitsinh Disale
The story of Disale and his sustained efforts towards improving the life chances of these tribal girls while fighting all kinds of social odds that disfavoured the education of girls, is truly remarkable.
It is interesting to note that this journey wasn’t easy and he had to work on the basics like translating the textbooks and the learning materials into a language that the girls at least understood, i.e. Kannada before actually beginning to engage with them on the various subjects.
His remarkable commitment and zeal to improve the life chances of the tribal girls can be understood by the fact that right from translating all the textbooks to designing personalised learning material for each student, Disale took important steps to bring back these girls into the educational fold and make them understand what kind of difference acquiring an education could make to their lives.
While the attendance at the school where he has been teaching was abysmal when he first joined due to social constraints against the schooling of girls and a lac of awareness about the importance of an education, today the school boasts of a 100% attendance record because the children love to come to school and several girls from the school have also grown up to graduate from university.
Apart from reviving the school and getting tribal girls enrolled into its educational curriculum, Disale also worked for the local environment in this drought plagued region and also initiated various youth projects for the promotion and understanding of global peace and brotherhood through his project “Lets Cross the Borders”.
His contributions are remarkable and are certain to inspire a generation of those who want to step out of their comfort zones and do something meaningful for the community even if it might mean facing societal opposition and a host of other difficulties.
Disale has made up his mind to share half of the prize many with nine of his fellow finalists to encourage and contribute to their noble initiatives too. The prize is given by the Varkey Foundation in partnership with UNESCO.