Palestinian teacher wins Global Teacher Prize for 2016

A teacher who grew up in a Palestinian refugee camp has won the Global Teacher Prize for her work supporting children who have been exposed to violence.

Hanan Al Hroub decided to go into teaching after her own children saw a shooting on their way home from school. She wanted to help others growing up in similar circumstances by creating a safe classroom environment.

The (USD) $1 million award, which has been referred to as the ‘Nobel prize of teaching', is in its second year. The inaugural winner was US educator Nancie Atwell.

Hanan says violence acts as a barrier to teachers and stops them performing their roles. ‘Some children may not directly experience things like arrests, or assaults, checkpoints, and all the violence in our country. However, they see it on screens and in social media and it still affects them.

‘I present the curriculum in ways that speak to the strengths of my students and their personalities. In a way that promotes “No to Violence”, and in a way that will affect their behaviour positively.'

Her approach, at Samiha Khalil High School, involves teaching and learning through play, and positive reinforcement through story telling.

‘When I say “No to Violence”, I pass it onto the student without them noticing it, through behaviours and ethics that I teach the students through playing games. Each game has its own rules and guidelines and each student who wants to participate, whether in a group or in the entire classroom, has a role.'

Find out more about Hanan Al Hroub's story in the video below.

The Varkey Foundation's Global Teacher Prize was set up to recognise exceptional educators, share stories of success, and promote the teaching profession.

The 2016 winner was announced at a ceremony in Dubai, as part of the Global Education and Skills Forum. Hanan Al Hroub was one of 10 finalists, selected from 8000 nominations. The others were:

  • Aqeela Asifi, Kot Chandana refugee camp, Punjab, Pakistan. After arriving at the camp as a refugee from Afghanistan, Aqeela set up a school for girls in a tent. There are now nine schools at the camp, teaching 1500 students.
  • Ayub Mohamud, Eastleigh High School, Nairobi, Kenya. A business studies teacher, Ayub is focused on helping rural students improve skills such as innovation, design and creativity.
  • Colin Hegarty, Preston Manor School, London, UK. Colin is a maths teacher who uses a flipped learning approach. He's also created 1500 online maths videos, which have clocked up almost five million views.
  • Joe Fatheree, Effingham High School, Illinois, USA. Joe teaches curriculum topics through project-based learning. He also encourages students to work with local industry and businesses and to share their work beyond the classroom walls.
  • Kazuya Takahashi, Kogakuin University Junior and Senior High School, Tokyo, Japan. Kazuya has developed a LEGO-based instruction program to encourage student creativity and helped organise the first space elevator competition for teenagers.
  • Maarit Rossi, Kartanonranta School, Finland. Maarit teaches maths through real-life problem solving, has co-authored nine maths curriculum text books and has set up an eLearning website.
  • Michael Soskil, Wallenpaupack South Elementary School, Pennsylvania, USA. Michael encourages students to make connections beyond the classroom. Global learning collaborations have included projects with students in Kenya and Greece.
  • Richard Johnson, Rostrata Primary School, Perth, Australia. Richard set up Australia's first school science lab specifically for young children, which now has a STEM focus. His students learn using technology such as robotics and augmented reality.
  • Robin Chaurasiya, Kranti School, Mumbai, India. Robin founded the school (an NGO) to offer educational support to 12- to 20-year-olds in Mumbai's red light district. The curriculum is supplemented with evening classes, weekend social activities and voluntary work.

Visit to watch video interviews with each of the finalists and for information about applications for the 2017 awards.