Palestinian Global Teacher Prize Winner meets Pope Francis at the Vatican

Tuesday 31 May 2016
Pope Francis with Hanan Al Hroub

Dubai - MENA Herald: The 2016 Global Teacher Prize winner Hanan Al Hroub, a teacher from Samiha Khalil High School, Al-Bireh, Palestine, met His Holiness Pope Francis at the Vatican.

Pope Francis, earlier this year, announced her as the final winner from over 8,000 teacher applicants from 148 countries via a special video message broadcast into the Global Teacher Prize ceremony. Al Hroub was presented the Prize by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, and Sunny Varkey, Founder of the Varkey Foundation.

Shortly after she met the Pope she launched the Italian Teacher Prize and drew attention to the plight of “traumatised” refugee children and called on Governments and aid agencies around the world to ensure there was funding for counselling and social service support.

Al Hroub said: “The role of education for refugee children is not only to teach them to read and write, it is also to give them the resilience and persistence they need to deal with what they have experienced, and to avoid repeating the violence they have witnessed.

“Most importantly, we must remember that these are not just children – they are traumatised children. 79% of refugee children have experienced a death in the family, while 45% displayed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, 10 times the usual prevalence in children. Children always need a safe, secure and loving environment.”

Al Hroub, who grew up in a Palestinian refugee camp, won the Varkey Foundation US$1 million Global Teacher Prize 2016 for developing her ‘play and learn' technique to help deeply traumatised Palestinian children open up and slowly begin the process of learning again.

She focuses on developing trusting, respectful, honest and affectionate relationships with her students. She also encourages her students to work together, pays close attention to individual needs and rewards positive behaviour. Her techniques have spread throughout Palestine.

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