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Exactly two years after establishing Bitcoin as legal tender, El Salvador’s Ministry of Education began its pilot program on Thursday to bring Bitcoin education to the nation’s public schools.
The program, launched in partnership with native Bitcoin projects Bitcoin Beach and My First Bitcoin, will teach 150 public school teachers about Bitcoin, before the educators return to their own classrooms in their local schools.
As early as 2018, crypto had already penetrated the world of higher education. A Coinbase report that year found that 42 of the world’s top 50 universities had at least one course on crypto and blockchain.
Classes have begun!
Next week they will spread across the country to their local schools to do the same with their own students
— Mi Primer Bitcoin (@MyfirstBitcoin_) September 7, 2023
“Our teachers are ready—they've been training, teaching, even themselves improving our own Bitcoin diploma for over a year,” said John Dennehy, founder of My First Bitcoin, to Decrypt via DM. “The public school teachers are—literally right now—being trained.”
El Salvador adopted Bitcoin as an official currency two years ago, garnering major attention for being the first country to run the experiment on a national scale. It has had some technical issues along the way, and on-the-ground adoption has been limited—but tourism in the country has surged in response.
Since launching in 2021, My First Bitcoin has already taught 25,000 in-person Salvadoran students. Last year, the non-profit developed a 10-week Bitcoin Diploma that is “open-source”—meaning its contents are fully available and viewable online. Not unlike what colleges and universities have done with massive open online courses, or MOOCs.
Having already been used to help educate students across the nation, the Bitcoin Diploma was later used to teach staff from the Ministry of Education about Bitcoin and is now being used to train teachers.
The 187-page student workbook features economic education, touching on subjects like the role of money, its evolution, and the “dark side of fiat.” It includes English, German, Korean, and Spanish translations.
The workbook’s contents echo themes from the famous Bitcoin book "The Bitcoin Standard," whose author Saifedean Ammous now advises El Salvador President Nayib Bukele. “Debasement of currency occurs when the government reduces the value of its currency by increasing the money supply or decreasing the quality of the currency,” reads a passage in chapter 3.
Dennehy clarified that Ammous made no direct contributions to the course material, which was devised by a “small team of teachers” in El Salvador and the United States. However, a version of the Diploma was once reviewed by popular Bitcoin and Lightning developer Giacomo Zucco.
“It's been a bumpy road to get there but throughout the past two years the students have been extremely receptive,” wrote Dennehy.
My First Bitcoin currently works with grassroots education initiatives in over 20 countries, including multiple states in the US, Canada, the UK, Hong Kong, Guatemala, Cuba, and others.
Regarding state education, Dennehy said that two additional Latin American governments have already reached out to My First Bitcoin over the past month for potential collaboration on Bitcoin education.
Furthermore, the non-profit is in early-stage collaboration with a state government in Mexico for a pilot teaching 250 students about Bitcoin, with help from Bitcoin-supportive senator Indria Kempis Martinez.
“We expect to continue to expand at a rapid pace,” said Dennehy. “El Salvador is the focus, but the mission is the world.”