Ethiopia deploys blockchain in the classroom

Blockchain is perhaps best known as being the way in which cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin and Ether, are underpinned.

But in Ethiopia it's being deployed in schools.

The government of Ethiopia has partnered with blockchain firm IOHK to digitize the sector.

Its role includes record-keeping, resource allocation and the issuance of teacher and students IDs.

Education minister Getahun Mekuria said the technology was being piloted in all secondary schools, covering around five million students.

"I, as minister of education, I would be able to locate exactly where, for example, very good students are in mathematics, or in physics and chemistry."

A blockchain is a database held across a network of computers.

Once a record has been added it is very difficult to change.

To ensure all copies of the database are the same, the network makes constant checks.

That can be useful, IOHK African operations director John Connor says, when verifying someone's qualifications, for example.

"This new form of identity will enable you to share a single link to an employer who you can click on it and then follow through blockchain verified, to be able to follow through on the blockchain the verifications that you've actually achieved, what you said you have."

IOHK says the blockchain will allow Ethiopia's government to monitor records like class attendance, schedules and grades for all levels of schooling.

The authorities have other plans including providing all students and teachers with a tablet and a "dedicated internet network".

That's as it pursues a goal of becoming a middle-income country by 2025.