Pope Francis has announced the award of the $1 million Global Teacher Prize to a Palestinian primary school teacher, Hanan al-Hroub.
In a video address, the Pope said: “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 children.”
The prize, administered by education charity the Varkey Foundation, is awarded annually for excellence in teaching.
Al-Hroub grew up in a Palestinian refugee camp. She became a primary school teacher after her husband and children were shot at on the way home from school.
The children’s psychological recovery was helped when the family invented games to play with local children – something which has become part of al-Hroub’s teaching techniques.
Pope Francis said: “A child has the right to play. Part of education is to teach children how to play because you learn how to be social through games as well as learn the joy of life.
“A population that is not well educated because of the wars, or by other reasons that exist in order not to get any education, is a population that decays. That is why I would like to highlight the noble profession of a teacher.”