Top Indian teacher wins $1m and gives half away as British nominee named 'Covid hero'

Rahul Bedi
·2-min read
Indian teacher Ranjitsinh Disale learned a new language specifically to translate textbooks  - Varkey Foundation/Handout 
Indian teacher Ranjitsinh Disale learned a new language specifically to translate textbooks - Varkey Foundation/Handout

A top Indian teacher has pledged to give away half of his $1m prize money after winning an international teaching award, while the British nominee was given a special mention as a 'Covid hero'.

Jamie Frost, a teacher from Tiffin School in Kingston, received a special recognition from the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize for helping young people to learn from home during the Covid-19 crisis.

He won the £34,000 "Covid hero" prize for running a free maths tuition website during the pandemic in a ceremony hosted by Stephen Fry.

Ranjitsinh Disale, 32, who teaches in a village primary school in western Maharashtra state, won the $1m (£750,000) award for using QR codes and other innovative teaching techniques in his lessons, which were credited with reducing student drop-out rates.

Mr Disale arrived at the school - which is wedged between a cattle shed and a storeroom - in the drought-prone village in 2009.

With few resources, he took on the challenge of specially learning the local language Kannada in order to translate textbooks.

Mr Disale also redesigned the textbooks, embedding them with QR codes to give students access to audio poems, video lectures, stories and to set them homework.

Mr Disale's school was the first in Maharashtra to introduce QR codes, and after he submitted a proposal regarding their efficacy to the state education authorities 2017, the government introduced QR-coded schoolbooks across the province for all grades.

His enthusiasm led to the 100 per cent attendance of girls in classrooms, in an area where girls commonly drop out of school after getting married.

He also provides online science lessons to students in 83 countries and oversees an international project building associations between young people living in conflict zones.

Mr Disale’s decision to share half his prize money with the remaining nine teacher finalists will mean over £41,000 will be given to educators from Brazil, Italy, Malaysia, Nigeria, South Africa, South Korea, the US and Vietnam.