Palestinian teacher with anti-violence curriculum wins $1M prize

Julie Wiener

Palestinian teacher Hanan Al Hroub at a ceremony where she received the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize in Dubai, March 13, 2016. (Varkey Foundation)

Palestinian teacher Hanan Al Hroub at a ceremony receiving the $1 million Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize in Dubai, March 13, 2016. (Varkey Foundation)

(JTA) — A Palestinian teacher raised in a West Bank refugee camp was named Global Teacher of the Year and awarded a prize of $1 million for her work bringing dialogue and peaceful resolution practices to students who have been exposed to violence.

Hanan Al Hroub, who received the Varkey Foundation’s Global Teacher Prize at a ceremony in Dubai on Sunday, returned to the West Bank on Wednesday, where a Jericho reception was held in her honor, the Times of Israel reported.

According to the website of the Global Teacher Prize, a curriculum Al Hroub has developed called “No to Violence” 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.”

A teacher at Samiha Khalil High School in al-Bireh, near the West Bank city of Ramallah, Al Hroub said she plans to use the prize money to create scholarships for students who want to become teachers and to help fund teaching programs that use her methods.


“I am proud to be a Palestinian female teacher standing on this stage,” she said in her acceptance speech in Dubai.

As she accepted her award, Palestinians in the audience waved the Palestinian flag and some chanted, “With our souls, our blood, we sacrifice for you, Palestine.”

In her acceptance speech, according to the Times of Israel, Al Hroub reiterated her mantra of “No to violence” and stressed the importance of dialogue.

“The Palestinian teacher can talk to the world now. Hand in hand we can effect change and provide a safe education to provide peace,” she told The Associated Press.

Al Hroub told the International Business Times that her work has been inspired by her own experiences growing up as well as her children’s experiences witnessing violence.

“My life was really hard in the refugee camp. If we are talking about childhood, children in the camp didn’t have one,” she said. “It was hard for adults and children. We were restricted from all our needs. Palestinians suffer everywhere, whether in a refugee camp or not.”

Al Hroub developed her nonviolent method after her children witnessed her husband being shot by Israeli soldiers during the second intifada, according to the Times of Israel.

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