Five million students are to be the beneficiaries of “the world’s biggest blockchain deployment” in a partnership between the Ethiopian government and a tech company.
Input Output Hong Kong (IOHK) will create a national identity system to record the educational performance of 3,500 schools and 750,000 teachers across Ethiopia.
IOHK said this will give “all pupils verifiable digital qualifications, increase social mobility, and allow lesson planning and attainment monitoring”.
The Atala Protective Research Information System Management (PRISM) is a decentralized identity solution that enables people to securely own their personal data and interact with organizations.
IOHK’s Cardano blockchain will allow authorities to track individual grades, behavior, attendance, and educational attainment across all kindergartens, elementary schools, and secondary schools. Teachers will also use the system to manage schedules or transfers, and report behavior or drop-outs.
It is understood that this will reduce fraudulent university and job applications and increase social mobility by allowing potential employers to verify all grades without third-party agencies.
In its announcement, IOHK said: “This partnership is at the heart of Ethiopia’s Digital Transformation Strategy. IOHK has long recognized how developing world countries could uniquely benefit from blockchain, and this deployment is key in our vision for Africa.”
According to IOHK founder Charles Hoskinson, the Cardano Protocol was “started in 2015, specifically to figure out how to accommodate this concept of economic identity, how to build applications that would be equally useful as they are someone's basement in New Jersey as they are to shepherd in Senegal”.
Hoskinson says that doing great science and deploying it in a timely manner to the developing world should go hand in hand.
“We also realize in addition to doing great science and engineering, it would take quite a bit of time for us to actually figure out how to deploy these systems within the developing world,” said Hoskinson.
“That meant we physically had to move to those countries and in 2017, after we had matured as a company, we opened up offices in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. We built extensions into Rwanda and Uganda and came up with great partners.”
John O’Connor, IOHK’s African Operations Director, believes the partnership with the government of Ethiopia could be the spark which ignites blockchain innovation across the African continent.
O’Connor told City A.M. Media Group that “Ethiopia’s blockchain-based education transformation is a key milestone in IOHK’s mission to provide economic identities and employment, social and financial services for the digitally excluded.”
He added: “This project could light the touch-paper for a wave of third-generation blockchain innovation across Africa and the developing world, bringing vital services to those who have previously been cut off from them.”
According to City A.M. IOHK is already in discussions around a blockchain-based digital transport ticketing system in Addis Ababa.
“Seventy percent of our university graduates are in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects and we are now leading the way in using blockchain to digitize education,” Ethiopian Education Minister Getahun Mekuria told City A.M. Media Group.
Founded in 2015 by Charles Hoskinson and Jeremy Wood, IOHK is a tech company which aims to democratize social and financial services for the world’s 1.7 billion ‘unbanked’ people using peer-to-peer innovations. The engineering company builds cryptocurrencies and blockchains for academic institutions, government entities, and corporations.
"The project would make the nation’s education provision more dynamic." Getahun Mekuria told City A.M.