A Palestinian ex-refugee has won a $1-million prize dubbed the “Nobel for teachers”

Making a difference.
Making a difference.
Image: Associated Press/Kamran Jebreili
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A Palestinian teacher has won a $1-million global teaching prize.

Hanan al-Hroub teaches refugee children. The Palestinian teacher—who was born in a refugee camp near Bethlehem—supports children who have been exposed and traumatized by violence; she encourages them to renounce violence using a specialist approach. She reportedly exclaimed, “I did it, I won,” when she was handed the award, which has been dubbed the Nobel prize for teaching.

Pope Francis announced the winner via video message. “I would like to congratulate the teacher Hanan al-Hroub for winning this prestigious prize due to the importance that she gave to the ‘playing’ part in the education of the children,” he said.

Al-Hroub had beaten 8,000 other applicants from across the world to win the second annual coveted prize. Other finalists included Aqeela Asifi, an Afghani refugee living in Pakistan who created a school for refugee children, and Robin Chaurasiya, who founded a non-profit school in Mumbai to help teenagers who have grown up and are living in the red light district.

The star-studded award ceremony took place in Dubai; it was attended by Salma Hayek, Matthew McConaughey, and former British prime minister Tony Blair.