The Global Teacher Prize is an award presented annually to a teacher who has made a significant contribution to the community. eNSPIRED selected the most outstanding stories of teachers who were candidates for the 2020 prize and are thus working on innovations to introduce children to the wonderful world of education and to achieve equity.

The teacher who transformed girls' education with QR coded textbooks

Ranjitsinh Disale, who transformed the life chances of young girls at the Zilla Parishad Primary School, Paritewadi, Solapur, Maharashtra, India, has been named the winner of the Global Teacher Prize 2020, in partnership with UNESCO. Education used to be of very little importance to parents in the area, but thanks to Disale that changed. He went to parents to talk about the importance of education as a guarantee for a good job, and made sure he was well-received in the community.

Now children go to school regularly, and he can motivate children to keep that happening. Disale believes in personalized learning, which means learning at an individual pace. That is where the QR codes come in. When students scan a code in a textbook, they receive personalized courses, thus closing the gap between students in villages and students in cities. When CODID-19 kicked in and all schools in India were closed for half a year, tech-enabled classes by Disale provided a vital lifeline for learners. India has known a long history of child marriages, as they used to make a lot of the girls a bride by the age of 12. In the last ten years, this culture is banned. Yet, according to Disale, teachers must continue to focus on instilling confidence so that girls feel encouraged to pursue education. Because it is also about them feeling safe in the community and society.

 This Global Teacher Prize website is a source of educational professionals that can be invited to international days, study days and so on to inspire others. 

The teacher who has removed barriers with Borderless Classroom Model 

Hà Ánh Phượng is a teacher in the remote mountainous area in Vietnam at the Huong Can High School, Phu Tho province. She believes learning a language includes learning about a new culture and a new world. Moreover, according to Phượng learning English is the tool to remove world barriers and have a better life. In her area, students have little opportunity to practice English with foreigners, so English skills and intercultural awareness are very low. That is why Phượng installed the Borderless Classroom Model: "Children from a low-income ethnic minority family can connect with global teachers and learners from 45 countries worldwide. The Borderless Classroom Model already resulted in remarkable progress in pronunciation, learning interest, self-confidence and intercultural awareness."

Besides this project, there is also the Say No to Plastic Straws project where Phượng tackles plastic waste. Pupils make bamboo straws and distribute them to local people to raise awareness of sustainability in the community. Now they call for 42 schools all over the world to join the project to find the best solutions to protect the environment. At last, at nighttime Phượng often visits local children and motivates them to study English since learning English at an early age is very beneficial.

The teacher who makes learning fun with dance and rap

The musical teacher Olasunkanmi Opeifa teaches at the Government Day Secondary School Karu, Abuja, Nigeria. He wanted to be a teacher since he was 8 years old and loves the ability to change lives. In Nigeria, the present challenge is to change the attitude towards education, especially in the north where 70% of all learners are low-income families. Opeifa noticed children want to learn, but differently. So he looked at what they enjoy, which seemed to be music and in particular rap and hip-hop. Opeifa asked himself: “How can I involve music in the classroom?” So in order to teach them in a way, they learn he developed a fun-based method he likes to call edutainment. With this method, Opeifa links the course to popular dance steps with the music. This results in excitement under the pupils.  In 2018 Opeifa won the Maltina Nigerian Teacher of the Year prize. Now he is a Microsoft Educator Trainer and trained already 3000 teachers in Nigeria.

The teacher who gives refugee students a voice

Leah Juelke a teacher at Fargo south high in Fargo, North Dakota help pupils feel like they all have something to contribute. 30% to 40% of the school population are refugees. This means many fled war, famine and persecution to seek asylum in America. Moving from one country to another can be very traumatic. By listening to the refugees, Juelke realized how many incredible stories were not being told. That is why she started the Journey to America project. With this project, Juelke lets pupils write their story about how they came to the USA. She also takes them to the art museum, so they can paint a scene from their refugee story on canvas. Overall, Juelke wants pupils to have a voice and as a teacher she provides spaces for them to speak, so their stories are heard. But it all starts in a classroom where students write, gain empathy for their peers and others, and feel able to advocate and make a change.

Phuong was a speaker at the eNSPIRED podcast about international exchangeReady to be even more inspired? Learn more about our digital learning weeks here