Palestinian teacher, Hanan al-Hroub | Photo: Global Teacher Prize
The Global Teacher Prize was awarded to Hanan al-Hroub, a primary school teacher in the West Bank city of al-Bireh, at a ceremony in Dubai. A Palestinian teacher, who grew up in a refugee camp, has beaten 8,000 other applicants from around the world to win a US $1 million prize for her excellence in teaching.
Hanan Al Hroub has won the 2016 Global Teacher Prize for her work educating children in Palestine. She was given her award by Sunny Varkey of the Varkey Foundation, during the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai.
Hanan grew up in the Palestinian refugee camp, Bethlehem, where she was regularly exposed to acts of violence. She went into primary education after her children were left deeply traumatised by a shooting incident they witnessed on their way home from school.
Her experiences in meetings and consultations to discuss her children’s behaviour, development and academic performance in the years that followed led Hanan to try to help others who, having grown up in similar circumstances, require special handling at school.
With so many troubled children in the region, Palestinian classrooms can be tense environments. Hanan embraces the slogan ‘No to Violence’ and uses a specialist approach she developed herself, detailed in her book, ‘We Play and Learn’.
She hopes that, with education, her people can reclaim their homeland
She focuses on developing trusting, respectful, honest and affectionate relationships with her students and emphasizes the importance of literacy. Hanan encourages her students to work together, pays close attention to individual needs and rewards positive behaviour. Her approach has led to a decline in violent behaviour in schools where this is usually a frequent occurrence; she has inspired her colleagues to review the way they teach, their classroom management strategies and the sanctions they use.
Hanan has shared her perspective at conferences, meetings and teacher training seminars. She hopes that, with education, her people can reclaim their homeland.
Education and teachers for children who live in war zones
At the ceremony, al-Hroub’s name was announced by Pope Francis.
The head of the Catholic church talked about the necessity of education and teachers for children who live in war zones.
“I feel amazing and I still can’t believe that the Pope said my name,” al-Hroub told The Associated Press. “For an Arab, Palestinian teacher to talk to the world today and to reach the highest peak in teaching could be an example for teachers around the world.”
The Palestinian teacher will use the prize money, she says, for scholarships for students who want to become teachers.
With our souls, our blood, we sacrifice for you Palestine
As al-Hroub collected her award, Palestinians in the audience displayed their country’s flag and some chanted, fists pumping in the air, “With our souls, our blood, we sacrifice for you Palestine.”
The award comes amid fraught pressure from Israel on Palestine, with at least 179 Palestinians killed within the last five months.