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27 February 2020

Hanan Al Hroub, from Palestine wins global teacher award

Hanan Al Hroub, from Samiha Khalil High School, Al-Bireh, Palestine, has won the  Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize 2016.

Now in its second year, and widely referred to as the Nobel Prize for teaching, the US$1 million  award is the largest prize of its kind which Hanan Al Hroub has won. Pope Francis announced the winner out of the 10 finalists for the year 2016.

The Global Teacher Prize was set up to recognize one exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession as well as to shine a spotlight on the important role teachers play in society. By unearthing thousands of stories of heroes that have transformed young people’s lives, the prize hopes to bring to life the exceptional work of millions of teachers all over the world.

Hanan Al Hroubgrew 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 traumatized by a shooting incident they witnessed on their way home from school. Her experiences in meetings and consultations to discuss her children’s behavior, 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 focuses on developing trusting, respectful, honest and affectionate relationships with her students and emphasizes the importance of literacy. She encourages her students to work together, pays close attention to individual needs and rewards positive behavior.

Her approach has led to a decline in violent behavior 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, there can be an elimination of violence altogether.

 Hroub, who works in primary education, told Anadolu Agency in February that she promotes non-violence through playing.

“The Israeli occupation has caused many behavioral problems among our children,” she said. “By using this teaching method, I have managed to solve these behavioral problems and have created a new peaceful and cooperative generation.”

The idea of the non-violent teaching method came to Hroub after her husband was shot by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem during the al-Aqsa intifada, which erupted in 2000.

“My husband was injured. The Israeli soldiers laughed at him and left him [to bleed to death]," she recalled. “This incident has left my children in shock. This teaching technique, however, has helped them recover and regain their self-confidence.”

DT Monitoring Team