As India embraces blockchain technology to boost efficiency in various industries, the education sector has emerged as one of the early adopters, reshaping academic data management and offering a paradigm shift in security, transparency, and accessibility.

Due to centralized storage systems, academic records have traditionally been vulnerable and exposed to fraud. Certificate fraud and false claims about educational qualifications are a billion-dollar industry and a growing problem.

However, blockchain’s decentralized architecture “ensures that once data is recorded, it is immutable and cannot be altered, providing a robust safeguard against unauthorized changes or falsification of records,” Raj Kapoor, founder of India Blockchain Alliance, told CoinGeek.

Recently, an assistant manager of the Indian School of Business Management and five others were arrested for selling fake educational certificates to various universities. In another instance, a woman from Kerala in southern India was nabbed for issuing fake educational certificates to different institutions, including Madras University and Mahatma Gandhi University. Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann recently announced that the state government has decided to recover the salaries paid to individuals who secured jobs using fake educational and caste certificates. Even a Nepali lawmaker was apprehended for possessing a fake academic certificate and pursuing higher studies based on it.

“Blockchain has the potential to not only make education more accessible but also to eliminate various issues in the current education system. It can facilitate a more efficient, transparent, and secure database,” Bharat Web3 Association Chairman Dilip Chenoy told CoinGeek in an email.

For instance, in western India, the Maharashtra State Board of Skill Development has collaborated with local start-up LegitDoc to use blockchain technology to issue and verify digital diplomas to students. With this implementation, nearly one million digital diploma certificates for a total of eight academic years have been issued using the LegitDoc “blockchain standard.”

“This has helped combat the issue of document forgery and significantly reduced the authentication time for verifying the certificates. Through this technology, over one million digital diploma certificates have been issued, each having its own unique document hash which does not contain any personally identifiable details hence preventing paper forgery and eliminating privacy concerns,” Chenoy pointed out.

“Blockchain facilitates instant verification and authentication of academic credentials. Through digital certificates and diplomas stored on the blockchain, stakeholders such as employers or other institutions can swiftly verify the authenticity of a candidate’s qualifications, eliminating the need for time-consuming verification processes,” Kapoor said.

According to a Business Research Insights report, the global blockchain in education market is projected to reach $3,049.26 million by 2030, from $118.7 million in 2021, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 43.94%. The sudden rise in CAGR is due to the market’s expansion and the easing of demand after the pandemic.

“As education moves towards digitization, blockchain provides students with a verifiable, tamper-proof version of their certificates [and] degrees. Academic records stored on the blockchain are transparent, easy to verify, and maintain the privacy of academic records, helping both teachers and students. This reduces the administrative burden on teachers and allows them to focus more on teaching rather than tiresome processes that may take up a huge chunk of their time,” Chenoy added.

Meanwhile, Dhruvil Shah, Senior Vice President of Technology at Liminal Custody Solutions, a digital asset custody and wallet infrastructure provider, said blockchain technology can help institutions securely store and verify academic records, thereby ensuring transparency and reducing the risk of fraud or manipulation.

“This decentralized data management system could streamline admissions and faculty employment processes to foster a more reliable academic ecosystem in India,” Shah told CoinGeek.

Moreover, with blockchain-powered platforms, educators will be able to securely record and monitor student progress, assignments, and accomplishments.

“This technological advancement holds the potential to offer personalized learning experiences and deepen the level of engagement between educators and learners, paving the way for a more efficient and effective education system. This measure is instrumental in mitigating instances of cheating and plagiarism, thereby fostering a fair and merit-based assessment system,” Shah added.

Bridging Geographical Barriers 

Not only does blockchain technology help curb certificate fraud, it also enables individuals to securely access and share their academic records from anywhere in the world, empowering them to pursue opportunities without constraints imposed by traditional paper-based systems.

For instance, Globsyn Business School (GBS) in east India is among the first institutions to issue its diploma certificates using blockchain technology, moving away from the age-old process of issuing paper certificates. The institute has partnered with Mumbai-headquartered Zeonlab to develop its certification management service. GBS students can access their certificates digitally, thereby eliminating the inconvenience of carrying hard copies of the certificate while applying for higher education or for employment opportunities. The certificates can be accessed from anywhere in the world.

“Smart contracts further streamline the verification process by automating credential validation based on predefined criteria. This automation reduces administrative overhead and enhances efficiency in verifying academic achievements,” Kapoor added.

Smart contracts are digitally stored contracts on a blockchain that are executed automatically when predetermined conditions are met.

A good example is Velocity Network Foundation, a non-profit membership organization, which allows individuals to use a career wallet application installed on their device to connect to their work, school, or license-issuers to claim digitally-signed proofs of their employment history, educational background, skills, and qualifications. These records are stored privately on the device, and the individual controls who they share their data with, according to the Foundation’s website.

“Blockchain and smart contracts have the potential to create personalised educational pathways for students, where teachers can track a student’s progress and programme courses with the help of a smart contract,” Chenoy said.

Growing Popularity

As a testimony to blockchain’s growing popularity in the education sector, President Droupadi Murmu launched blockchain-secured graduation degrees at the National Institute of Technology (NIT), Kurukshetra. The technology for awarding blockchain-secured certificates was provided by CertOnce. The digital copies of the certificates were emailed to all the students, published on the blockchain, and instantly verifiable on the NIT Kurukshetra website.

“Blockchain technology is beginning to revolutionize how academic data is handled in Indian institutions by introducing transparency, efficiency, and trust,” said Avinash Shekhar, co-founder of Pi42, a digital currency derivatives platform.

The growing popularity of blockchain technology for academic credentials is also in sync with India’s New Education Policy (NEP), which attests to the need to invest in the creation of open, interoperable, evolvable, public digital infrastructure in the education sector that can be used by multiple platforms and point solutions, to solve for India’s scale, diversity, complexity, and device penetration. This is expected to ensure that technology-based solutions do not become outdated due to rapid technological advances.

“Through blockchain-based platforms, teachers can securely record and track students’ progress, achievements, and learning preferences in a transparent and immutable manner. Now, teachers can leverage blockchain to create personalized learning pathways tailored to each student’s needs and preferences. By analyzing data stored on the blockchain, they even gain insights into individual learning styles, strengths, and areas for improvement, enabling them to adapt their teaching methodologies accordingly,” Kapoor pointed out.

The Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (IIT-Kanpur), a premier technology and research institute, launched a system to provide students with blockchain-based educational degrees in digital form. These digital degrees can be verified globally and are non-forgeable. The digital degrees are expected to be safe from cyberattacks, with the original degree always staying in the digital wallets of the students.

“By providing a decentralized platform for storing and managing student data, this [blockchain] technology significantly reduces administrative burdens while enhancing data security and privacy,” said Greg Hemmer, head of ecosystem and fundraising at Shardeum, an EVM-based, linearly scalable smart contract platform.

The Chitkara University has also adopted blockchain technology to issue e-documents for students’ benefit. The university has reportedly adopted HashDegree, a blockchain technology-enabled solution from Hashcove which is a subsidiary of Indian fintech major uTrade solutions. The degrees issued on blockchain have a physical certificate with a quick response (QR) code leading to the blockchain.

“Blockchain-based decentralized credentialing systems would provide verifiable, tamper-proof records of students’ skills and qualifications, enhancing their employability and opening up new pathways for lifelong learning. Blockchain technology is empowering teachers to adopt data-driven, student-centered approaches to education while also laying the groundwork for a more transparent, accountable, and inclusive education system in the future,” Kapoor added.

India recently put documents from nine federal organizations and provincial governments on blockchain. The website, operated by the National Informatics Centre (NIC), has onboarded 19 departments, including the Supreme Court. The documents are from six provincial governments and three federal government departments—the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), the Consumer Affairs Ministry, and the Justice Ministry.

The website lists documents like educational certificates, land records, and drug logistics chains, that have been put on the blockchain. As of March 9, the CBSE has put one of the largest number of documents on the blockchain— 1,71,24,672—while as many as 43 documents are from the Supreme Court, according to the website.

“The promising potential of blockchain in education calls for widespread adoption to fully unlock its benefits. Collaboration among educational institutions, governmental bodies, and technology providers is imperative in establishing standardized protocols and facilitating seamless integration of blockchain networks,” Shah of Liminal pointed out.

Bright Future

To utilize blockchain effectively in the education sector, a user-friendly interface that doesn’t require a lot of technical expertise on the part of students and teachers is necessary. Chenoy pointed out that the development of such user-friendly interfaces will go a long way in the effective adoption of blockchain technology in the education sector.

“To improve the application of blockchain, a common set of standards and protocols can be adopted to ensure that blockchain systems can interoperate smoothly across different educational institutions and systems,” Chenoy said.

An area of concern is scalability, which is necessary to accommodate the vast amount of data generated in educational institutions from sources like student records, e-learning platforms, and administrative operations.

A good example is BSV blockchain’s Teranode technology, which is specifically designed to handle extremely high volumes of transactions and data with its demonstrated capability of millions of transactions per second.

“Teranode can be particularly effective for these institutions since its scalability ensures that the blockchain can manage extensive data without slowing down, which is crucial for maintaining the efficiency of educational processes. This could facilitate real-time updates to records, immediate access to educational resources, and seamless integration of new technologies or data sources into the system,” Rohan Sharan, founder of Timechain Labs, India’s leading blockchain application development firm that’s utilizing BSV blockchain, told CoinGeek.

Meanwhile, “Developing scalable blockchain solutions that can handle increased transaction volumes without compromising speed or efficiency and cost is crucial for widespread adoption,” Kapoor pointed out.

“Enhancing interoperability between different blockchain platforms and educational systems is sacrosanct for seamless data exchange and collaboration among stakeholders. Standardizing protocols and APIs [Application Programming Interface] would need to be developed to facilitate interoperability and cohesiveness,” Kapoor added.

Blockchain interoperability is the ability of different blockchain networks to interact seamlessly thereby allowing exchange of data without any intermediaries or central authorities.

To improve interoperability between different blockchain platforms and educational systems, Sharan pointed out that adoption of middleware solutions that serve as translators to their existing systems can also be useful.

“Technology can help align blockchain innovations with the current and future needs of educational systems. This can ensure that new blockchain solutions are compatible with existing educational infrastructure and policies, and enhance the efficiency and security of their operations” Sharan added.

Another requirement is simplification of blockchain interfaces and applications, and make them more user-friendly and accessible to educators, students, and administrators. Intuitive interfaces will encourage the widespread adoption and utilization of blockchain technology in education.

Moreover, strong privacy and security measures are required to protect sensitive academic data stored on the blockchain.

“Advanced encryption techniques and privacy-preserving technologies will safeguard personal information and maintain user trust. All this should be laced with robust regulatory frameworks and compliance standards [which] will provide clarity and legal certainty for educational institutions, ensuring adherence to data protection and privacy regulations,” Kapoor said.

“Furthermore, prioritizing initiatives aimed at enhancing digital literacy among stakeholders will play a crucial role in maximizing the transformative impact of blockchain technology within the Indian education sector,” Shah of Liminal added.

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