IOHK, the blockchain research & development company behind the Cardano blockchain, today announced a partnership with the Ethiopian Government, to implement a national, blockchain-based student and teacher ID and attainment recording system to digitally verify grades, remotely monitor school performance and boost education and employment nationwide.
IOHK’s Atala PRISM identity solution will enable authorities to create tamper-proof records of educational performance across 3,500 schools, 5 million students, and 750,000 teachers to pinpoint the locations and causes of educational under-achievement and allocate educational resources effectively.
The aim is to provide all students with blockchain-verified digital qualifications to reduce fraudulent university and job applications and increase social mobility by allowing employers to verify all applicants’ grades without third-party agencies. The government is also issuing all teachers and students with tablets and a dedicated internet network giving all students instant access to their academic records, opening up higher education and employment opportunities for the 80% of Ethiopia’s population living in rural regions.
Student IDs will be paired with data from Learning Management Systems and harnessed by machine learning algorithms to drive personalized tuition, a dynamic curriculum, and data-driven policies and funding. Blockchain can verify personal data without third-party institutions, helping safeguard data privacy and giving remote rural populations easy ‘one-stop shop’ access to education, employment, and other financial or social services.
Digital Ethiopia 2025
The blockchain-based national identity system is at the heart of Digital Ethiopia 2025, the country’s Digital Transformation strategy. The government recently issued a national identity standard and the Atala PRISM blockchain ID will be the first system to issue IDs based on this standard. The strategy seeks to drive the country’s transformation into one of the world’s middle-income countries through the digitalization of sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, and tourism.
Ethiopia is examining wider adoption of IOHK’s Atala products, which include the PRISM platform, for everything from blockchain-based ‘track and trace’ of smallholder agricultural supply chains to digital IDs for transport or healthcare. IOHK is already in discussions around a blockchain-based digital transport ticketing system in Addis Ababa.
IOHK’s Cardano blockchain will allow accurate tracking of individual grades, behavior, attendance, and educational attainment across all kindergartens, elementary schools, and general secondary schools. Teachers will also use the system to manage schedules or transfers, and report behavior or dropouts. Moreover, the project could be extended to universities where degrees are also verified on the Cardano blockchain, allowing employers to easily validate the authenticity of applicants’ educational credentials.
IOHK has long recognized that developing countries could uniquely benefit from blockchain technology because of their lack of embedded, legacy digital systems and the fact that blockchains are lower cost than cumbersome infrastructure. IOHK is already working with other governments on using blockchain to digitize public services, including a project with Georgia’s Ministry of Education pioneering the use of its Atala products to underpin a blockchain-based system for verifying graduate degrees. In 2019, IOHK also ran a pioneering all-female software development training program focusing on blockchain solutions.
“Ethiopia’s blockchain-based education transformation is a key milestone on IOHK’s mission to provide economic identities and employment, social and financial services for the digitally excluded. After five years of R&D, Cardano is now mature enough to underpin a blockchain solution which can scale to serve an entire national population. This project could light the touchpaper 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.”
– African Operations Director at IOHK, John O’Connor
IOHK was founded by blockchain visionary and Ethereum co-founder Charles Hoskinson on a mission to democratize social and financial services for the world’s 1.7 billion ‘unbanked’ people.
“Ethiopia’s Sheba Valley is already recognized as the leading AI hub in Africa, 70% of our University graduates are in STEM subjects and we are now leading the way in using blockchain to digitalize education. This forms a key plank of our National Digital Transformation Strategy and will underpin a uniquely transparent, data-driven education system based on a dynamic curriculum. We believe blockchain offers a key opportunity to end digital exclusion and widen access to higher education and employment.”
– Ethiopian Education Minister, Getahun Mekuriya
This is the first of a series of anticipated Africa announcements to be discussed in IOHK’s Africa Special show on April 29th, 2021.