The winner of this year’s $1 million Global Teacher Prize has shared half of the prize money with nine other finalists.
Ranjitsinh Disale of India was named the winner of the prestigious award for his work in improving the educational outcomes of young girls in remote schools.
The Global Teacher Prize is an annual award by the Varkey Foundation to a teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession.
The Varkey Foundation is a global charity set up by entrepreneur Sunny Varkey, who is based in Dubai.
The foundation aims to improve educational standards for underprivileged children.
This year’s event was presented online by writer and comedian Stephen Fry from the National History Museum in London.
The ceremony was held in the UAE over the past five years alongside the Global Education and Skills Forum held in Dubai, which was cancelled due to coronavirus.
Organisers decided the prize would be rotated to other host countries on a yearly basis.
More than 12,000 teachers from 140 countries were nominated for the prize this year, with the entrants whittled down to 10 finalists.
Mr Disale, who accepted the award over a livestream from India, was praised for his work to ensure disadvantaged girls went to school and achieved good results - rather than missing out on school and facing early marriage.
The foundation said Zilla Parishad Primary School - located in the village of Paritewadi in India’s western state of Maharashtra - was a “dilapidated building, sandwiched between a cattle shed and a storeroom” when Mr Disale arrived.
The teacher learnt the students’ primary language, Kannada, and redesigned all the textbooks for better comprehension.
Accepting the award, Mr Disale donated half of the $1 million in prize money to the other nine finalists because “teachers always believe in sharing and giving”.
“In this hard time, teachers are giving their best to make sure every student has access to their birthright of a good education,” he said.
“I receive this honour on behalf of millions and millions of students and teachers, all working hard during this time of Covid.”
Mr Disale said the work of teachers should never be undervalued.
“Teachers are change-makers. They change the lives of students all over the world,” he said.
Mr Varkay said "by sharing the prize you teach the world the importance of giving".
A special Covid Hero award went to Jamie Frost of the UK.
Mr Frost was recognised for creating a free website that has downloadable resources for students.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the work of teachers around the world had made students’ lives easier during the pandemic.
“Your creativity and ingenuity has given hope and support to millions of children throughout the world,” he said.
“It’s incredible how teachers have adapted to home learning and used technology to reach their students.”