The teacher with a million-dollar plan


Mumbai: Robin Chaurasiya, one of the 10 finalists for the Global Teacher Prize 2016, knows what she is going to do with her million dollars if she wins—she will share it with the nine others.

“They all need the money as much as I do to support the work that they are doing,” says the 30-year-old former US Air Force lieutenant.

Chaurasiya is the co-founder of Kranti, an NGO that seeks to educate the girl children of sex workers in Mumbai’s Kamathipura.

She and the nine other finalists for one of education’s biggest prizes—it is considered among the top recognitions for teachers and was instituted by the UK-based Varkey Foundation—were chosen from a field of more than 8,000.

“The human mind is an incredible thing. For each mind to achieve its full potential needs a spark. The spark of enquiry, excitement and passion. Often the spark comes from a teacher,” said Stephen Hawking in London while announcing the names of the finalists. He acknowledged that he wasn’t the easiest person to teach, was slow to learn to read and had an untidy handwriting.

“My teacher, Dikran Tahta, showed me how,” he said.

Chaurasiya, who is teaching the girls to think and speak for themselves, competes with teac-hers from the UK, US, Palestine, Japan, Pakistan, Kenya, Australia and Finland for the cash prize.

For Chaurasiya, starting Kranti about five years ago was an outcome of a short stint of working with the Rescue Foundation, which was involved in rescuing, rehabilitating and reintegrating victims of human trafficking.

It was good work but she worried that the women weren’t being encouraged to aim higher. They were taught how to make pickles and papad, and some were married off.

“Nobody ever spoke or believed in these girls wanting to do anything else like being an astronaut, painter or journalist. There was no programme there to help them,” says Chaurasiya who, along with a colleague at the foundation, started Kranti.

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