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Teaching Bitcoin in Schools: El Salvador Leads the Way and Explores Fiat’s Flaws

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Two years post its groundbreaking decision to legitimize Bitcoin as a lawful currency, El Salvador is making strides in the educational sector. The Ministry of Education in the country kicked off a trailblazing initiative on a recent Thursday, aimed at introducing the concept of Bitcoin to public educational institutions.

In a pioneering effort, the Ministry has joined hands with local Bitcoin initiatives, notably Bitcoin Beach and My First Bitcoin. The collaboration aims to equip 150 teachers from public schools with the know-how of Bitcoin. These teachers will later pass on their newly-acquired knowledge to their students.

John Dennehy, the brainchild behind My First Bitcoin, said in an interview:

The mission is truly underway—our instructors are in training as we speak. They’ve been getting ready for this for over a year, refining our Bitcoin-focused academic program

This move isn’t an isolated event; cryptocurrency has been making its way into academics for some time now. As far back as 2018, a study by Coinbase revealed that crypto and blockchain courses were available at 42 of the world’s top 50 educational institutions.

The uptake of Bitcoin in El Salvador has certainly had its ups and downs. Despite some technical hitches and a slow rate of day-to-day adoption, the country has seen a boost in tourism ever since its groundbreaking legislation.

My First Bitcoin, which was initiated in 2021, has already made a notable impact. Over 25,000 Salvadoran students have been taught in person by this non-profit. To disseminate the knowledge more effectively, they’ve designed an “open-source” 10-week Bitcoin Diploma. This means anyone can freely access its content online. The initiative mirrors the trend of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) seen in higher education. In fact, staff members from the Ministry of Education have also been educated through this diploma, which is now being used to train the teachers.

The comprehensive 187-page workbook that accompanies the diploma isn’t just about Bitcoin; it provides a rounded economic education. It delves into topics such as the history of money and the lesser-discussed “flaws of fiat currency.” To reach a global audience, the workbook is translated into multiple languages, including English, Spanish, German, and Korean.

Some of the material in the workbook resonates with the concepts from the renowned book “The Bitcoin Standard” by Saifedean Ammous, who is an advisor to the President of El Salvador. However, Ammous did not directly contribute to the course material. This was confirmed by Dennehy, who said the curriculum was crafted by a select group of educators from the U.S. and El Salvador. Giacomo Zucco, a leading Bitcoin and Lightning developer, also once reviewed the diploma.

A Challenging Journey

“The journey hasn’t been without its challenges, but the students’ enthusiasm makes it all worth it,” said Dennehy. My First Bitcoin has extended its reach to over 20 countries, engaging with grassroots educational campaigns across the United States, Canada, the UK, and even countries like Cuba and Guatemala.

Dennehy also revealed that interest is not just confined to El Salvador. Two other Latin American governments have expressed interest in potentially collaborating on Bitcoin-focused educational programs in the last month alone. Even more ambitiously, My First Bitcoin is in the early stages of coordinating a pilot program to instruct 250 Mexican students about Bitcoin, in collaboration with a pro-Bitcoin senator from the country, Indria Kempis Martinez.

“Fast-paced growth is what we aim for. While El Salvador remains our primary focus, our vision is much grander and encompasses the entire globe,” concluded Dennehy.

El Salvador’s Bitcoin Bet: Aiming High

When El Salvador took the historic step to make Bitcoin a recognized form of legal currency, President Nayib Bukele had clear ambitions. The president emphasized that one of the main objectives was to offer the Salvadoran populace more accessible banking solutions. Additionally, Bukele envisioned that the cryptocurrency would streamline the flow of remittances—financial transfers sent by Salvadorans living abroad back to their home country.

The Salvadoran economy leans heavily on these remittances. In fact, they constitute a substantial chunk, over a fourth, of the nation’s GDP. However, despite high hopes, Bitcoin hasn’t quite caught on as the remittance solution it was projected to be.

The move by El Salvador to adopt Bitcoin wasn’t without its detractors, especially on the international stage. Institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank didn’t hold back their skepticism. Both organizations warned about the potential volatility associated with Bitcoin and how it could potentially rock the boat of financial stability.

Interestingly, the Salvadoran president hasn’t been deterred by these challenges or the coin’s low adoption rate for remittances. Instead, Bukele seems to be playing the long game by capitalizing on dips in the cryptocurrency’s value. In a strategic move this past July, the leader acquired an extra 80 Bitcoin when each coin was valued around $19,000. This acquisition has pushed El Salvador’s Bitcoin reserves to a total of 2,381 coins.

So while the lofty ambitions for Bitcoin as a revolutionary remittance tool have yet to be realized, it’s evident that El Salvador isn’t backing down. Instead, they seem to be digging in their heels for what might be a long and unpredictable financial journey.

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