Arab Teacher Wins Global Award

Hanan Al HroubHanan Al-Hroub (pictured) is an Arab primary teacher who grew up in a refugee camp near Bethlehem, Israel. Violence was prevalent in and around her community. Recently she won the Varkey Foundation’s 2016 Global Teacher Prize collecting the million dollar award.

Her victory was announced in Dubai by Pope Francis (on video link) and applauded by Prince William, US vice-President Joe Biden, former President Bill Clinton and many others.

She was led into school-teaching after her own children were traumatised by a shooting incident they witnessed one afternoon as they returned home after school.


That experience led Hanan into school-teaching. She was motivated to help other children by providing a safe place for them and building trust with them. Today she teaches in the West Bank city of al-Bireh, near Ramallah. That area is mostly in the news for brutality and violence. In the midst of instability and uncertainty, Hanan is a peacemaker at least for her students.

“Her approach has led to a decline in violent behaviour 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 statement from the Varkey Foundation said.

Deeply concerned for the children, she wrote a book “We Play and Learn.” In it she focussed on the importance of children playing and learning trust, respect, honesty and literacy.

8000 teachers were considered before the final announcement was made during a ceremony in Dubai. Her success was celebrated by a large crowd in Ramallah who gathered to watch the announcement on a large screen, provided for the event.

“I would like to congratulate the teacher Hanan al-Hroub for winning this prestigious prize due to the importance she gave to the role of play in a child’s education,’ the Pope said in his video statement.

An Example

Humbled by her success Hanan emphasised her “no to violence” philosophy. She hoped her success would be an example to teachers ‘around the world.’

Famously Plato said, “The direction in which education starts a man will determine his future life.” It is more than likely the contribution of wisdom, learning and character being made by Hanan al-Hroub will reap a rewarding harvest in the Middle East and hopefully, more specifically, in the community where she lives.

Finalists for the 2016 event came from Australia, Finland, India, Japan, Kenya, Pakistan, Britain and the United States.

Richard JohnsonOne of the ten finalists was Rostrata (Perth) primary science teacher Richard Johnson (pictured left). He must have narrowly missed first prize. He was recognised for his efforts in developing a dedicated primary school Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths lab at Rostrata.

The model has been copied by schools throughout Australia and has gained international interest too.

He is a proponent for studied progress in education. He called for progress to bring education systems into the 21st century.

Alexander the Great summed up the importance of teachers and the education they bring: “I am indebted to my father for living, but to my teacher for living well!”

Francis Bacon made that famous quote, ‘knowledge is power.’ But in the Bible, the Book of Proverbs is said to be a manual for wisdom it says: “Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance.” (Proverbs chapter 1, verse 5)