Hanan Al Hroub, a Palestinian school teacher who grew up in a refugee camp, was awarded the prestigious Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize in the United Arab Emirates this year, after being one of ten finalists worldwide.

Pop Francis announced Al Hroub as the winner in a video message saying, “I would like to congratulate the teacher Hanan al-Hroub for winning this prestigious prize due to the importance that she gave to the ‘playing’ part in the education of the children.”

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Al Hroub teaches at Samiha Khalil High School in the West Bank in which she uses a specialist teaching approach with traumatized children, which she developed herself. She promotes the slogan “no to violence” and her approach involves developing trusting, respectful and affectionate relationships, and teaching traumatized refugee children through the joy of play.

According to Al Hroub, she developed this approach following the traumatizing experience of when her husband and children were shot at on their way home from school.

Accepting the award, Al Hroub said, “I am proud to be a Palestinian female teacher standing on this stage.” The inspiring educator also said that she would use the prize money to help students, teachers, and education development in general in Palestine and around the world.

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A number of prominent figures attended and contributed to the award ceremony. In a video link, Prince William said, “A good teacher holds the power to influence, inspire and shape a young person’s life for the better. They represent the key to real change in this world.”

In another video message, former US president Bill Clinton said to the 10 final candidates, “You don’t hear it often enough, but your work is truly heroic.”

Also in attendance of the ceremony were former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and Hollywood stars Matthew McConaughey and Salma Hayek.

Finalists of the award included teachers from Pakistan, Kenya, India, America, Australia, and Japan.

March 2016 marks the second annual Global Teacher Prize in which the winning teacher not only receives $1 million, but is also asked to serve as a global ambassador for the Varkey Foundation.

Information gathered from Egyptian Streets, The Guardian, and BBC
Featured image credit: Kamran Jebreili/AP
Images courtesy of official Global Teacher Prize Website

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