Project title: The Causal Impact of Higher Education – field experiment in Ethiopia
About the project
I am working together with a multinational team on developing a blockchain based peer-to-peer donations platform facilitating stipends that will enable talented students from underprivileged backgrounds in Ethiopia to study at university. Using the blockchain not only enables international peer-to-peer transactions, but it is also inherently transparent as all transactions are public. The reason we want to work in Ethiopia is because of the Ethiopian government’s recent announcement of a deal to give digital identities stored on a blockchain to 5 million schoolchildren in Ethiopia. These identities will be linked to their educational qualifications and its primary use will be to help the Ethiopia Ministry of Education monitor educational progress and direct resources to accordingly. This means a donor can (a) see who the recipients are (b) trust that the credentials are genuine, (c) see that their donations go straight to the students. In addition to this, the Cardano blockchain and many other blockchains allow users to write so-called “smart contracts”. These contracts are immutable (once the smart contract code is put on the blockchain) that specify a set of conditions and some code that will be executed if said conditions are met. This occurs automatically meaning that one can condition stipend disbursements on anything, if it is something digitally verifiable (attendance, registration, taking an exam etc). In design the platform, we will have impact assessment in mind from the start. This means we aim to combine an eligibility threshold (all top students) with some randomisation to thereby get treatment (receive stipend) and controls (not receive stipend). This project is at an early stage, and we are currently supported by the Cardano blockchain under Project Catalyst, the world’s largest decentralised fund, to do more background research and assemble the team.