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Press Release 

Technology rollout to 5 million Ethiopian students will provide real-time educational attainment monitoring, data-driven policy development, and workforce planning

According to a press release sent to Shega, IOHK, a global blockchain research, and development company behind Cardano Blockchain has 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.

Blockchain-verified Digital Qualifications

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 personalised 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 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, behaviour, 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 behaviour or dropouts. The project could ultimately be extended to universities where degrees are also digitally verified on the Cardano blockchain, allowing employers to easily validate the authenticity of applicants’ educational credentials.

IOHK has long recognised 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 digitise public services, including a project with Georgia’s Ministry of Education pioneering the use of it’s 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.

John O’Connor, African Operations Director at IOHK, said: “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.”

Ethiopian Education Minister Getahun Mekuria, said: “Ethiopia’s Sheba Valley is already recognised 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 digitalise 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.”

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