Blockchain Firm IOHK Announces Partnership With Ethiopian Government

Blockchain research and development firm IOHK is partnering with the Ethiopian Government to create a blockchain-based education system built on tamper-proof student data to remotely monitor nationwide pupil performance.

IOHK is a research and development company and industry leader in the fields of cryptography and distributed systems. In September 2017, IOHK developed the Cardano blockchain, home to ADA the world’s fourth biggest cryptocurrency by market cap, to run smart contracts, decentralized applications, side chains, multi-party computation, and metadata.

In the wake of adoption of cryptocurrencies by banks, the partnership signals growing adoption of blockchain by governments to create secure, decentralized services and is at the core of Ethiopia’s Digital Transformation Strategy to become a middle-income country through digitizing its economy.

5 million students and 750,000 teachers will be issued with tablets and blockchain-based identity data will be harvested by machine learning systems to identify hotspots of educational under-achievement and create a data-driven education system. Authorities will use blockchain based student data to create curricula, policies and resources targeted at skills shortages and areas of greatest need. Identity data stored on blockchain can be accessed from tablets without repeated third party verification to give remote rural populations easy ‘one-stop shop’ access to overseas education and employment and other services including digital healthcare and transport.

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.

Ethiopia is examining wider adoption of IOHK’s Atala products, which include the PRISM blockchain ID, 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.

“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,” said John O’Connor, African Operations Director at IOHK. “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 Mekuriya said that Ethiopia’s Sheba Valley is already recognized as the leading AI hub in Africa, 70% of their University graduates are in STEM subjects and they 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,” Mekuriya said. “We believe blockchain offers a key opportunity to end digital exclusion and widen access to higher education and employment.”

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