A Palestinian school teacher won a $1 million education award on Sunday to applause from world leaders for helping children to learn through play. Hanan Al Hroub, who teaches at the Samiha Khalil High School in the West Bank Palestinian city of Al-Bireh, was presented with the award at Dubai.

World leaders, including Pope Francis, Britain’s Prince William, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, US Vice-President Joe Biden and former US President Bill Clinton, recorded messages for the ceremony.

Hroub, who grew up at a refugee camp near the West Bank city of Bethlehem, beat nominees from India, Japan, Canada, Kenya, the US and the UK.

She beat India’s Robin Chaurasiya, who runs a not-for-profit school in Mumbai for girls from the city’s red light district of Kamatipura, and eight other finalists to bag the Varkey Foundation’s prize.

Hroub, who has detailed her approach in a book entitled ‘We Play and Learn’, said: “I am proud to be a Palestinian female teacher standing on this stage.”

Wearing a traditional Palestinian dress decorated with red embroidery, she accepted the prize “as a win for all teachers in general and Palestinian teachers in particular.”

She said she would use some of the money to promote her education methods and support fellow teachers in the Palestinian territories.

Here’s a look at the work that she does.

The Global Teacher Prize was set up by the not-for-profit Varkey Foundation after a 2013 survey found the profession’s status had been declining. It was founded by Kerala-born entrepreneur and educational philanthropist Sunny Varkey to recognise one exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession. 

Hollywood stars Matthew McConaughey and Salma Hayek as well as Bollywood stars Abhishek Bachchan, Akshay Kumar and Parineeti Chopra joined former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Ruler of Dubai, at the gala awards ceremony in Dubai.

(With inputs from PTI)

(Feature image source: Varkey Foundation)