Palestinian Woman Who Grew Up in a Refugee Camp Wins $1 Million Global Teacher Prize

When Hanan al-Hroub's children saw their father injured during a shooting incident on their way to school, she became committed to helping them heal from their trauma.

Soon she made a life-changing decision to become a primary school teacher.

Now her commitment to emphasizing nonviolence in the classroom and helping students cope with tension in the West Bank city of al-Bireh, has won her a $1 million prize for teaching excellence. al-Hroub beat out 8,000 other applicants from almost every corner of the globe.

On Sunday, she accepted the award during a ceremony in the city of Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum presented the prize and Pope Francis announced her name in a video message. In her acceptance speech she expressed her mantra, "No to violence." 

al-Hroub is no stranger to tension having been regularly exposed to acts of violence while growing up in Bethlehem, a Palestinian refugee camp.

"Violence acts as a barrier to us teachers which blocks us from performing our roles," said al-Hroub in a video by the Varkey Foundation's Global Teacher Prize. "All the violence in our country, they see it on the screens and in social media and that still affects them," she added.

She is the second teacher to receive the prestigious award given to one exceptional teacher a year who has made a major contribution to the profession, employs innovative classroom practices and encourages others to pursue teaching.

al-Hroub was able to train colleagues, teachers, guidance counselors, and principals in her teaching methods using nonviolence as an ideal in the classroom. She emphasizes a slogan "No to Violence" and advocates a special approach to teaching troubled students detailed in her book, "We Play And Learn."

And in even more inspiring news, al-Hroub will be using the award to fund scholarships for students who excel and will encourage them to pursue teaching.

Her award comes at a time when violence between Israel and Palestine is spiking in fatalities.

"The Palestinian teacher can talk to the world now. Hand in hand we can affect change and provide a safe education to provide peace," she said in an interview.

We congratulate Hanan  al-Hroub on winning the Global Teacher Prize and hope that her award continues to inspire children to overcome adversity through nonviolence.

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Photo Credit:AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili