Arti Qanungo, shortlisted among the top 50 teachers globally for the annual USD 1-million Global Teacher Prize, UK-based Varkey Foundation announced in London recently. Arti has been an active member of our community, contributing to various discussions, sharing teaching learning materials with other teachers on the platform and also was one of the winners of our All India ChalkLit Quiz organized on Teachers’ Day. The Global Teacher Prize is considered to be the Nobel Prize for teachers around the world. She was shortlisted along with another teacher Swaroop Rawal from India, who teaches Life Skills at Lavad Primary School in Gujarat.
Arti Qanungo who teaches English and oversees Happiness Curriculum at Government Girls Senior Secondary School at Shakarpur in Delhi always wanted her students to be happy, and grow up to be confident young women. As a part of her micro innovation project within the school, she focuses on building listening skills in the students as a tool to improve and develop an outstanding command over the English language. Her endeavour to inculcate listening practice in the students has helped them win various prizes, year after year in competitions on English Poetry Recitations where they have competed with top private schools and yet brought laurels to their school.
Being a teacher in an all girls Govt School, apart from her regular teaching hours, Arti also works to solve several critical issues that her students face. Earlier, there used to be huge absenteeism among the students in her class. She observed that girls during their menstrual period used to miss their classes and frequently stayed at home because they either felt shy or scared to attend school. Moreover, she witnessed that there is a social taboo among the community members who do not allow other students to speak with the one who undergoing her menstrual cycle. All these issues were forcing them to miss their classes every month, hampering their performance in the class and affecting the overall morale of these young girl students.
To address these concerns, she started an innovation project to highlight these issues and raise awareness among her students and the community. She feels that community and schools should be interlinked and they should come together to enhance the impact of any positive efforts initiated in either of the places which will further help in making the students as well as members of the community into responsible citizens. The collaboration between schools and community is crucial to make a sustained positive change.
She has initiated extensive campaigns, classroom sessions and organized plays with her students to fight against these issues and educate her students about them.
Today, all her students display confidence, do not miss their classes, are doing exceptionally well in their academics, and feel ready to fight any form of abuse or oppression. She is grateful to the Global Teacher Prize for recognizing her efforts to ensure children, particularly girls, from poor backgrounds are protected from abuse and neglect and can grow in confidence and readily embrace higher order learning.
While speaking with the ChalkLit team, she says that ChalkLit is essentially a very useful platform for the teachers, especially for those who do not get the opportunity to attend seminar, trainings and conferences for their capacity building as they get more opportunities to develop and empower themselves through ChalkLit.
Arti is extremely active on the ChalkLit platform and has been engaging with the ChalkLit teacher community. She was also among the winners of the ‘TLM of the Month’ and the ‘All India ChalkLit Teacher Online Quiz’ conducted on ChalkLit.
ChalkLit and Million Sparks Foundation wish her all the best and strongly hope that she would bring home the most prestigious teacher award.
The top 50 shortlisted teachers will be narrowed down to 10 finalists by a Prize Committee, to be announced in February next year. The winner will then be chosen from among the 10 finalists by the Global Teacher Prize Academy. All 10 finalists will be invited to Dubai for the Awards ceremony at the Global Education and Skills Forum on March 24, 2019.
By Prahlad Chakma