Charif comes from a family of educators, but it wasn’t until he met his wife Naida that he decided to fully commit to teaching. As a child during the Bosnian war, Naida and her family were imprisoned in a concentration camp. When the guards saw her reading a book, they told her mother that if they ever saw her reading again, they would kill them. This traumatic experience, however, only fuelled her passion for reading and education.
Years later, on a visit to Morocco, Charif noticed how children were continuously playing in the streets during school hours. In Morocco, less than 15% of first-grade students are likely to graduate high school, 90% of girls and women in rural areas are illiterate, and only 10% of them will attend university. When Charif asked the children why they weren’t in school, they told him “I can’t understand what the teacher is saying”; “I have to work in the fields and help my dad”; “School is too far, and the teacher never showsup”. Naida suggested he tutor these children using some of the tools the pair had developed through researching edtech’s role in enhanced learning. In two weeks, the children progressed from barely recognising numbers to mastering simple addition and subtraction. The children actually came to find Charif where he was staying, so that they could continue to “play math”! That moment made him realise his ambition: to launch“Ed4.0”– an education technology project that unlocks economic prosperity and social justice for the fourth industrial revolution.
Since then, Charif has launched Ed4.0 Mobile, a travelling school that moves across Morocco’s most remote rural areas with a programme that helps close students’ gaps in numeracy. The Ed4.0 Smart Lab is a scalable low-cost edtech centre that allows children in rural areas to learn the skills needed for the fourth industrial revolution’s labour markets. Using these approaches, the classroom becomes student-centered, where teachers are not “the sages on stage” but rather facilitators.The children are not only obtaining a quality education, but also being prepared to integrate into the workforce and expand their financial stability.
Additionally, Charif has created the Moroccan Library Project, which engages Moroccan youth to organise independent book drives across the country and partner with schools and communities in the most remote rural areas to start small libraries. Forbes has named Charif a 30 Under 30 nominee for the innovative approach he has used with young people in a variety of communities. If awarded the Global Teacher Prize, he would use the funds to launch further innovative solutions–including a Numeracy App and a pedagogical space enabled with the latest technology to train students, parents and teachers in the most remote rural areas on coding.