Tortuous headlines for BBC report on Palestinian teacher’s prize

For over a month BBC News managed to assiduously avoid telling its audiences about the strike by more than 25,000 teachers in the Palestinian Authority controlled areas which affected over 540,000 pupils and even saw some teachers detained by PA security forces. The day after that strike was suspended however, the corporation did find a story about a Palestinian teacher which it considered newsworthy.

That article by the BBC’s education correspondent Sean Coughlan was originally published on the BBC News website on March 13th under the accurate and informative headline “Palestinian wins $1m global teaching prize”. For reasons unknown the title was changed several hours later to “Ex-refugee wins $1m global teacher prize” but then the following day it was again amended and the article now appears under headline “Palestinian refugee camp teacher wins $1m global prize“.teacher prize story

How – in the space of less than 24 hours – Ms Hanan Al Hroub went from being a Palestinian to an “ex-refugee” and then to a “Palestinian refugee camp teacher” is unclear but clearly some confusion is evident among BBC headline writers for whom her pedagogic achievements all too obviously take a back seat.  

Readers of the report are informed that:

“Hanan Al Hroub grew up in a Palestinian refugee camp and now is a teacher of refugees herself.

She specialises in supporting children who have been traumatised by violence. […]

Growing up in a refugee camp near Bethlehem, Ms Al Hroub now works with refugee pupils, with an approach using play that is aimed at resolving violence and tension.”

The Dehisheh refugee camp where Ms Al Hroub grew up and Al Bireh where she now works have of course both been under the full control of the Palestinian Authority for more than two decades and no effort is made to explain to readers why – unlike other descendants of refugees around the world – Ms Al Hroub’s pupils are still classified as refugees.

Associated Press staff in Dubai where the award ceremony took place reported that:

“As al-Hroub accepted her award, Palestinians in the audience waved their country’s flag and some chanted, fists pumping in the air, “With our souls, our blood, we sacrifice for you Palestine.””

That part of the story did not however appear in the BBC’s version of events.

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