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Palestinian Educator Wins Global Teacher Prize

Palestinian educator Hanan Al Hroub has won the $1 million Global Teacher Prize for 2016. She received the award, which is handed out each year by the Varkey Foundation, at the annual Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai.

Hanan Al Hroub 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 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.

Hanan received the award from His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Dubai, and Sunny Varkey, founder of the Varkey Foundation.

“I am proud to be a Palestinian female teacher standing on this stage," Hanan said after receiving the award. "I accept this as a win for all teachers in general and Palestinian teachers in particular. Each day, the role of the teacher is reinforced and its importance is confirmed as the world questions what future we want for our children."

Hanan is the second winner of the Global Teacher Prize, the largest prize of its kind. Last year, the inaugural year for the program, the winner was American teacher Nancie Atwell. The Global Teacher Prize was set up to recognize one exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession. 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.

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