Blockchain for Inclusive Growth (BIG) uses an emerging technology – blockchain – to help bridge the gap between informal and formal learning: giving grassroots organisations the capability to collaborate and issue verifiable qualifications in the same way as their more formal counterparts in colleges and universities, but with dramatically lower administration costs.
Throughout 2019 and 2020 MadLab worked in close collaboration with leading Pakistani digital innovators DEMO Islamabad to construct and trial the new service as a means of awarding achievements, and recognising participation, for community learners in a multitude of underserved regions of Pakistan – from Gilgit and Skardu in the mountainous North to Peshawar and Swat Valley in the West.
Driving the development of the service – now called Incredible – an initial ‘first adopter’ network has brought together a broad cohort of art, design, and science organisations from across the UK and Pakistan with a demonstrable track record of digital and creative skills development, peer-to-peer learning, and reaching broad audiences including those typically least engaged. Chief amongst these are DEMO themselves who have developed and delivered a new programme of Digital Business Skills for more than 500 women entrepreneurs across the country, both in Urdu and local dialect.
BIG is already helping to strengthen the digital, design, and STEM skills ecosystem in Pakistan and the UK. It is a first step towards a new system of recognised qualifications – an alternative to traditional accreditation – which make best use of the broad palette of expertise, ideas, and specialisations from informal learning organisations in both regions. In addition, creating and adopting a new digital standard for modular learning opens up new possibilities – creating new international qualifications which cross borders and break boundaries.