Swaroop Rawal

Lavad Primary School, Gujarat and various other schools, India


Swaroop Rawal

Swaroop never originally intended to become a teacher, but after becoming a mother and then returning to study at the age of 37, she realised that she had something unique to offer. She saw first-hand how some methods of teaching can create stress in children, which then makes its way into the family. Swaroop therefore went into teaching to accomplish two goals: to help make children more resilient through life skills education, and to bring new methods to teaching that would help students and their teachers reflect, imagine and build their sense of personal worth and agency.

To make this possible, she also pursued a PhD, researching life skills enhancement for mental wellbeing, teacher education, and the arts as a tool for education.

Realising that she could reach more children by not being tied to one specific school, Swaroop has pursued an eclectic teaching practice that has allowed her to reach a diverse range of children – including children on the streets, in rural communities, in labour, economically and socially disadvantaged children, and elite school children. Each group has their individual challenges. In order to reach out to them, Swaroop uses drama in education – an active, learner-centred method which includes group discussion, brainstorming, debate, games, song, and drawing. At the forefront of this discussion is understanding the world and one’s own capabilities. This approach has had important concrete effects in the lives of those she has taught. To take two examples: after teaching in Bhadbhediya, peer-mentors subsequently discussed the issue of child marriage with the village committee and put measures in place preventing it. And in Sodvadra, pupils have helped put a stop to child labour in the diamond polishing industry and facilitated children’s return to school.

Swaroop has also contributed to the understanding of teaching in modern India. She has become a teacher-trainer, presenting papers at more than forty international and national conferences, and having articles published in international peer-review journals. She has given large numbers of workshops with audiences ranging from students and teachers to social workers and practitioners of psychiatry. In 2014 she carried out teacher training sessions for the government through a satellite link – an extremely successful program which brought about immense changes in teacher attitude in rural Gujarat. Swaroop also serves as the Non-Government Special Member on the Central Advisory Board of Education. In 2016 she was awarded Most Committed Person of the Year in Inclusive Education at the 4th International Early Childhood Conference of The Early Childhood Association.

If awarded the Global Teacher Prize, she would form a think tank to create and promote special curricula for pre-vocational education (PVE) in primary schools. This will aim to ensure that children are informed about a variety of possible occupations wherever they live in India. This think tank would share findings internationally for use in other countries, where they are directly related to the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

Teaching’ is my refusal to remain silent. Education is my way to make better the lives of the children. I perfect my practice so I can improve their schooling. I imagine new ways of teaching so I can teach them well to enable them to learn well....innovative and improved technique ...effective curriculums ...valuable research for a safer, beautiful world...It is about the children, always about the children.