IOG, too excited to wait for their official media livestream on Thursday, posted to their twitter account key details of Thursday’s announcement at 2:31 PM · Apr 27, 2021 UTC.
“We couldn’t make you wait until Thursday! We’re announcing our partnership with Ethiopia’s Ministry of Education to create a blockchain-based national ID and attainment recording system. Rolling out to 5M students, this is the world’s largest blockchain deployment”
The deployment will be based on Atalla PRISM, the announcement said. According to the company’s blog, “Atala Prism is a decentralized identity system that enables people to own their personal data and interact with organizations seamlessly, privately, and securely.”
The integration will store IDs and student achievement records for about 5 Million students, 750,000 educators and over 3.5 thousand institutions across the country. The 3.5K institutions will include, kindergarten, elementary, and secondary schools. The system will also be used to manage transfers and dropouts. With student IDs and achievement records on the blockchain, it will be easy to pair data to a Learning Management System for creating dynamic or even personalized curriculums.
Teachers and students will be issued internet connected tablets, from which students will be able to access their records anytime, anywhere. No more having to call your university to get an official transcript, which can sometimes cost as high as $50 in the United States! Employers and third parties will be able to access the system to verify student education. Having blockchain verification and removing third parties will help end the practice of certificate and degree selling that have seen a rapid increase over the last decade.
Some immediate questions come to mind that would most likely require more than a 160 characters to answer. Hopefully the full announcement Thursday will answer some of these questions.
We know that Atala uses the metadata functionality provided by the Cardano blockchain spec. What isn’t clear is whether or not the Ethiopia system will be making use of the existing public 2,400+ community powered global Cardano blockchain deployment. Or, will IOG launch a new network powered by privately run nodes for Ethiopia?
Given that teachers can append to student records, do students have the power to prevent this, say when they graduate? Are entries to records permission base? Do students have to approve and sign each entry before it is recorded to the blockchain? In other words, at what point do students actually gain full ownership of their data?
Whatever the answer is to these questions, this announcement and pilot program is an exciting development for the entire industry. And a historical landmark on our way to a future digital inclusion and equal opportunity for all.