Students graduating in Singapore to receive tamper-proof digital certificates

In its march towards becoming a smart nation, graduates of Singapore from local schools – including secondary schools, junior colleges and tertiary institutions – will receive digital certificates from this year which will be tamper-proof. This was announced by Minister for Education, Ong Ye Kung, at Temasek Polytechnic’s graduation ceremony today.

This is a part of a national initiative called Opencerts to develop deep tech solutions benefiting Singaporeans. It has been jointly developed by SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG), Government Technology Agency (GovTech), the Ministry of Education (MOE) and Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP).

OpenCerts is a blockchain-based platform that offers an easy and reliable way to issue and validate certificates that are tamper-resistant, according to a joint media release issued by SSG, GovTech and NP. This is the first time blockchain technology has been harnessed for use at the national level.

 Minister for Education, Ong Ye Kung, announced that students will receive tamper-proof digital certificates from this year during the Temasek Polytechnic’s graduation ceremony. Photo courtesy: Facebook page of Ong Ye Kung
Minister for Education, Ong Ye Kung, announced that students will receive tamper-proof digital certificates from this year during the Temasek Polytechnic’s graduation ceremony. Photo courtesy: Facebook page of Ong Ye Kung

It was first piloted in 2018 by GovTech and NP, to develop and trial the use of blockchain technology for secure and reliable digital certificate verification. The first batch of digital certificates was issued to NP’s graduating cohort last year. 

The change will benefit students graduating with N, O or A level certificates, those from the Institute of Technical Education, as well as those graduating from polytechnics, autonomous universities, LASALLE College of the Arts, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts and the National Institute of Early Childhood Development. Those graduating with Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) will also receive a digital certificate.

With OpenCerts, individuals will receive digital certificates which will each have a unique cryptographic proof embedded within for secure verification. They will no longer need to obtain certified true copies of their education and training certificates for job and academic admission applications. Individuals can instead provide potential employers with digital certificates issued by these institutions.

These digital certificates can be easily verified by employers directly through the OpenCerts platform, which will check the certificate data against its code on the blockchain for validity and to detect any signs of tampering. This automatic verification will simplify and reduce administrative processes and physical paperwork for employers. Local educational institutions will also save time and costs by not having to manually verify issued certificates from individuals.

Upon completing and graduating from participating institutions and schools, learners and students will have their issued digital certificates automatically populated onto their Skills Passport, which is available on both the MySkillsFuture Portal and Mobile App, when the students graduate and their certificates have been issued by the schools. The Skills Passport will serve as a single digital repository for education and training certificates.  It enables all Singaporeans to track their current skillsets and plan for future skills development.

Speaking about the benefits of OpenCerts, Ong said, “With OpenCerts, we are harnessing the power of blockchain in a practical way. It allows for any education institute to issue OpenCerts, and for anyone to quickly check the validity of a digital certificate,” said Ong.

“This will in time make job application and hiring easier and smoother for both the applicant and the employer,” he said.

Recounting the benefits to the students, the Education Minister said, “They would no longer need to go through the hassle of requesting for certified true copies of their certificates from their schools. Instead, they would be able to send potential employers their digital certificate together with the job application.”

“Employers can immediately validate the digital diplomas received as genuine because that is what blockchain offers – secure and immutable records,” said Ong.

“With OpenCerts, any unsavoury characters submitting forged certificates or degrees from Singapore institutions to try and get a job will be quickly found out and denied. It is a good solution to a real world problem,” he added.

"With OpenCerts and the Skills Passport, individuals will be able to securely and conveniently store and manage their education and training certificates on a single platform.  It is particularly useful in helping them review their current skillsets, and plan for future skills upgrading. Employers will also have a reliable source to verify certificates submitted by candidates and employees. This is an important milestone for SSG and our partners as we continue to enable Singaporeans to take personal ownership of their skills development,” said Ng Cher Pong, Chief Executive, SSG.  

“OpenCerts is another example of how the Government is harnessing technology to deliver secure and easy-to-use digital services for citizens and businesses. We see enormous potential for deploying the OpenCerts technology to develop secure and reliable certificate verification and issuance regimes in other sectors. We look forward to collaborating with industry and government agencies to develop further use-cases,” said Kok Ping Soon, Chief Executive, GovTech.