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Palestinian teacher wins ‘Education Nobel’ for her work with traumatised refugee children

24th Mar 2016
Palestinian teacher wins ‘Education Nobel’ for her work with traumatised refugee children

Hanan Al Hroub was award $1 million prize money for her work with traumatised Palestinian children (Photo:Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize)

Elham Asaad Buaras

A Palestinian teacher has been awarded the Global Teacher Prize, known as the ‘Education Nobel’. Hanan Al Hroub was awarded for her work with traumatised Palestinian children.

Al Hroub, who teaches primary school children in al-Bireh, West Bank city, was awarded $1 million prize money for her exceptional contribution to the profession on Sunday March 13.

She went into teaching after her children witnessed a shooting on her way home from school, which made her think about how teachers can help children who experience trauma.

GESF 2016 – Global Teacher Prize (Winner announcement)

The Prime Minister of the UAE, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, was among those in the audience. Both UK’s Prince William and Pope Francis sent messages to Al Hroub, which were played at the ceremony.

“I am proud to be a Palestinian female teacher standing on this 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,” said Al Hroub.

Al Hroub has vowed to spend her prize money on creating scholarships for students who excel to encourage them to become teachers.


Celebrations were held in Ramallah Square, Palestine when Hanan Al Hroub was namedr The 2016 Global Teacher Prize Winner (Photo:Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize)

Originally from Dheisheh refugee camp, located on the outskirts of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank, Al Hroub explains that her life growing up in the camp was the main motivation to become a teacher.

“It imbued me with the persistence and resilience I needed to face challenges. Being a child in a refugee camp is different from being a child anywhere else in the world,” she explains.

“Children elsewhere can enjoy their childhood, but not Palestinian children. The games that we played were affected by the surrounding conditions. You grow up aware and informed about the politics and what’s happening around you.”

During the second intifada, her husband, Omar, was injured after being shot by Israeli Security Forces. Her children, who witnessed the incident, were left in shock. “They lacked confidence, and they were afraid to go to school for a while.”

She believes that her children’s schools didn’t provide the psychosocial support they needed to deal with the trauma in the aftermath of their father’s injury, and it affected their performance in the classroom.

The experience inspired Al Hroub to study elementary education so that she could help other children who had been exposed to violence to overcome the psychosocial effects and trauma that often follow. “If children who suffer from violence are not given the assistance and support they need, they will be lost,” she says.

United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Commissioner-General, Pierre Krähenbühl, paid tribute to her “unique achievement,” saying her work with traumatised children was a “beacon of hope and an inspiration to the next generation. Hanan, I salute your courage and determination to continue with your education mission. Allow me to speak for the entire UNRWA family in sending our heartfelt praise and admiration.”

THE OTHER FINALISTS FOR THE VARKEY FOUNDATION PRIZE WERE:Aqeela Asifi (Pakistan); Robin Chaurasiya (India); Joe Fatheree (US), Colin Hegarty (UK); Richard Johnson (Australia); Ayub Mohamud (Kenya); Maarit Rossi (Finland); Michael Soskil (US); Kazuya Takahashi (Japan).

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