SEATTLE — On March 13, Palestinian teacher Hanan al-Hroub proudly accepted the 2016 Global Teacher Prize in recognition of her efforts to end violence in schools. Al-Hroub teaches primary school in the West Bank city of al-Bireh, an area that is rife with tension between Israelis and Palestinians.
Sunny Varkey of the Varkey Foundation created the Global Teacher Prize in 2014 to commend dedicated teachers around the world for their efforts in education and promoting the teaching profession. One of the most notable achievements of a teacher is transforming high-risk students into dedicated pupils.
“Teachers are also uniquely placed to recognize and support the most vulnerable and troubled children in our society, reaching young people early on in their education and providing them with the extra support they need and giving them the best possible chance in life,” said Prince William in his congratulatory speech to al-Hroub.
High-risk students abound along the West Bank, where tension between Palestinians and Israelis escalate into personal, face-to-face attacks among civilians and militant groups.
Children who are victims of or witness violence, or who display violent tendencies, struggle to stay in school. It can be difficult for them to concentrate, learn, and get along with others.
Having grown up in a Palestinian refugee camp, Palestinian teacher al-Hroub understands the impact of violence on students. She decided to become an educator when her husband was shot at while driving their children home from school in 2000, the Washington Post reports. She got a full-time teaching job in 2009.
Abusivekids.com teaches that the best way to end violence in schools is to build unity and trust between classmates and teachers. Children excel both academically and socially when they feel appreciated, protected and understood.
Al-Hroub promotes a secure environment in her classroom by encouraging honesty, trust, respect and affection, as well as a devotion to literacy. Her book “We Play and Learn” emphasizes the importance of constructing positive social skills through interactive play. Having already witnessed a decline in school violence, al-Hroub shares her ideas at conferences and teaching seminars around Western Asia.
At the award ceremony, Pope Francis announced Palestinian teacher al-Hroub as the 2016 recipient of the Global Teacher Prize via a video message. In his speech, he reinforced the idea of education as a means to end violence.
“A population that is not well educated because of the wars, or by other reasons that exist in order not to get any education, is a population that decays. That is why I would like to highlight the noble profession of a teacher,” said the Pope.
Winners of the Global Teacher Prize commit to teach for at least five additional years. Al-Hroub pledged her prize of $1 million to scholarships for students who are interested in the field of education.