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pr190340

PR190340

21/02/2019

​PRESS RELEASE BY THE OFFICE OF THE PRIME MINISTER

Malta begins a nationwide rollout of Blockcerts Blockchain Credentials for Education and Employment


The Ministry for Education and Employment (MEDE) and Learning Machine signed a two-year agreement to roll out Blockcerts to all Maltese education institutions. Academic credentials like diplomas, school leaving certificates, and transcripts will be issued to Maltese students in an internationally portable, instantly verifiable digital format. Educational institutions will also continue to receive official accreditation certificates on the blockchain for instant verification of status. This comes after MEDE and three educational institutions: the Malta College of Arts Science and Technology (MCAST), the Institute of Tourism Studies (ITS), and the National Commission for Further and Higher Education (NCFHE) successfully completed the world’s first national pilot of Blockcerts blockchain credentials.

During his address, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said that “in 2017, we said Malta should become ‘the blockchain island’. And it has. Malta is leading its peers when it comes to emerging technologies and digital innovation”.

The Prime Minister added that today Malta is reaffirming the sheer commitment towards embracing technology and using it for the betterment of all, improving quality of life. With the help of Learning Machine, people can feel the impact of technology. They can see with their own eyes the ways in which blockchain makes life easier.

Back in 2017, the Ministry for Education partnered with Learning Machine to launch a pilot project where academic credentials were issued using blockchain as a secure anchor of trust. Among other recipients of this pilot project, students at ITS and MCAST were presented their credentials on blockchain during their respective graduation ceremonies. 

Today, we are here to extend this initiative from a pilot project to Malta being the first country in the world to adopt the use of the Blockcerts open standard for academic credentials across all educational institutions, public and private, the Prime Minister said. 

This means that Learning Machine, together with all its Maltese stakeholders, is delivering world-class innovation. Having credentials safely stored on blockchain guarantees not only having personal information under ‘lock & key’ but minimises bureaucracy. Every student has instant access to his or her own credentials. This huge step forward means we are ahead of the game. Malta has become a trailblazer in these emerging technologies, not only by catering for the financial services sector, but now catering for other areas such as the educational sector, stated the Prime Minister.

He believes that there are many sectors, such as health, that could be a recipient of such technology too. Furthermore, this will be the easiest country in the world for employers to verify any worker’s skills and credential. This advance also facilitates access to opportunity for qualified workers and help us identify areas where we can close the skills gaps and prevent a brain drain. 

Minister for Education and Employment Evarist Bartolo said “what we are doing today is another small step in fulfilling the challenge set to us by our prime minister to be amongst the first in Europe but in the world. But in order to do that, we need economic growth, social justice, education, and technology to be able to have practical visions where we set ourselves ambitious objectives and work hard to meet them”.

The Minister said that this agreement is the fruition of a strong economic growth because we brought investment and created wealth which in turn provided to spend more on education and social justice measures. He stated that “we cannot stop from making sure that all the technological changes that are happening today such as blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, robotics come part and parcel of our culture. We cannot afford to be simply consumers of technological services, products and knowledge that is created elsewhere and then we just buy and import it. It has to come part of our culture, knowledge, and competence”.

He concluded that the important step we need to take to ensure not only we become a blockchain island because we are issuing Blockcerts but our young people from a very young age when they are at primary school are using technology in the right way. 

Parliamentary Secretary for Financial Services, Digital Economy and Innovation Silvio Schembri said that the time is ripe to translate what was garnered from this pilot project onto a nationwide level. “Our future generations will be the fortunate beneficiaries of today’s momentous signing”.

To strengthen today’s workforce and prepare it for this new emergent industry, Parliamentary Secretary Silvio Schembri announced that the second call for applications for DLT and Blockchain scholarships will open this Monday. 

“With a surfeit of foreign investors from this sector who have shown interest in investing in our country, it is imperative that our country provides them with the required human resources to execute successfully their operations. This scholarship ensures that we succeed in fulfilling this requirement”, he said. 

Silvio Schembri added that as from October of this year new specialised Master courses will open focusing on Blockchain and DLT in Business and Finance, Law and Regulation, and Information and Communication Technology.

The agreement was signed by the Ministry for Education and Employment Permanent Secretary Francis Fabri and Learning Machine Technologies President and Chief Operation Officer Dan Hughes. Parliamentary Secretary for Youth, Sport and Voluntary Organisations Clifton Grima was also present during the press conference.