Prince William and Pope Francis have congratulated a Palestinian teacher from the West Bank after she won a $1 million prize for educational excellence.
Hanan al-Hroub, who grew up in a refugee camp near Bethlehem, teaches Palestinian children outside Ramallah about the importance of non-violence.
She beat a maths teacher from London to scoop the £707,000 award and was overwhelmed to be announced as the winner of the Global Teacher Prize in Dubai.
At the ceremony, where Tony Blair joined Hollywood A-listers Salma Hayek and Matthew McConaughey, Prince William spoke of the “incredible responsibility” of teachers who “influence, inspire and shape a young person’s life for the better”.
Al-Hroub said: “For an Arab Palestinian teacher to talk to the world today and to reach the highest peak in teaching could be an example for teachers around the world,” adding: “I still can’t believe that the Pope said my name!”
The prize is in its second year and was created by the Varkey Foundation, the charitable arm of the GEMS international education firm.
Varkey chief executive Vitas Pota has urged the international community to focus on educating refugees. “One of the silent casualties of the war in Syria is education,” he said, adding that class sizes in some camps are as high as 120 children.
“Improving poor teacher pay in the camps, hiring more of them, and giving them better training, would improve the nightmarish conditions.”