Palestinian teacher awarded $1M prize

160330 Hanan Al Hroub-P2a

An elementary teacher who grew up in a Palestinian refugee camp has won a $1 million prize recognizing the “outstanding contribution” she has made to her profession.

Hanan Al Hroub, from Bethlehem in the West Bank, was awarded the Global Teacher Prize at a ceremony in Dubai Sunday.

Hroub accepted the award “as a win for all teachers in general and Palestinian teachers in particular.”

“Believe in your ideas, work on them, convince people of your ideas, challenge the whole world, convince people of your ideas so you can spread them and you will find yourself here,” she said.

Play and learning

Hroub became a teacher after her children and husband were shot at on their way home from school. “It transformed my children’s behaviors, personalities and academics,” she says in a video. “I felt that I was alone in getting my children through this. No teachers had helped us get my children back on track. “

With no help forthcoming from the education system, Hroub says her family started inventing games at home and inviting their neighbors’ children to participate.

Gradually, the children’s behavior and grades began to improve, she says. Now she teaches using play and learning at school to help pupils reject violence.

‘Our goals are noble’

Hroub promotes the slogan “no to violence” and uses a specialist approach with children that she developed herself, and has written about in her book, We Play We Learn. It involves developing trusting, respectful and affectionate relationships, encouraging youngsters to work together and rewarding positive behaviour.

She is planning to spend the money on helping students and teachers around the world to help them progress in their education and careers.

“Some children may not directly experience things like arrests, or assault, checkpoints and all the violence in our country, however they see it on the screens and in social media and that still affects them,” Hroub says.

“I tell all the teachers, whether they are Palestinian or around the world: ‘Our job is humane, its goals are noble. We must teach our children that our only weapon is knowledge and education’.”

Pope Francis announced via video conference that Hroub had won the award.

The Pope said that part of education was teaching children how to play in order to learn how to be social and “learn the joy of life.”

“I would like to congratulate the teacher Hanan Al Hroub for winning this prestigious prize due to the importance that she gave to the role of play in a child’s education,” Francis said.

“A child has the right to play,” – Pope Francis said –  “Part of education is to teach children how to play, because you learn how to be social though games, and you learn the joy of life.”

Al-Hroub later told the Associated Press it was “amazing” to hear the Pope say her name, and said she would use the million-dollar prize money to create scholarships for students who excel in order to encourage them to choose careers in teaching.

During her acceptance speech, Al-Hroub reiterated her commitment to non-violence and dialogue, a theme also touched on in Pope Francis’ video-message.

“A population that is not well educated because of wars, or by other reasons that exist in order not to get any education, is a population that decays,” said Pope Francis. “That is why I would like to highlight the noble profession of a teacher.”

Sources and Videos  : http://edition.cnn.com; http://www.theguardian.com ; http://en.radiovaticana.va

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