Blockchain set to be vital tool for ASEAN HE mobility

Blockchain has been proposed as a technology to revolutionise everything from farming to pharmaceuticals and to create digital data depositories for education. Now it seems it may become a useful tool for regional integration of international education in the ASEAN region (Association of Southeast Asian Nations).

Blockchain effectively removes the issue of trust in a network by distributing that trust among the stakeholders of the network to reach consensus. Blockchain uses Distributed Ledger Technology, in which each network stakeholder has access to view precisely the same set of data. Such data, once appended to the blockchain, becomes immutable; a record impossible to tamper with or modify unilaterally.

In November 2017 the Singapore Government Technology Agency, GovTech, was approached by Ngee Ann Polytechnic with a project to produce digital certificates to address qualification fraud, a serious issue for the integrity of higher education.

They accepted the challenge and by April 2019 GovTech Singapore were ready for the national deployment of a solution called OpenCerts across Singapore’s education sector.

OpenCerts is an open source schema for issuing and verifying education certificates built on the Ethereum blockchain platform. The initiative enables participating higher and further education institutions to issue their graduates with digital certificates that can be independently verified by employers and subsequent education providers.

With a simple drag and drop of a digital certificate onto a verifying portal on the issuing institution’s website, the certificate and key data can be verified in a matter of seconds. This removes the need for the awarding institution to respond to external verification requests and puts control of the process in the hands of the awardee.

To date, 16 higher and further education institutions in the city state have signed up to issue OpenCerts digital certificates. ШеOpenCerts has the potential to deliver broader solutions for higher education institutions across the ASEAN.