El Salvadors My First Bitcoin: How to teach a nation about crypto

the base program mi primer bitcoin, which means “my first bitcoin”, has been accelerated in el salvador. the first cohort of bitcoiner-come-students began their studies in May. Founded by John Dennehy, an American activist and journalist, the program also has the support of the Salvadoran government.

launch of the first diploma course in #bitcoin in el salvador with the support of its ministry of education

Reading: Bitcoin 47k el salvador chivochatterjeereuters

cointelegraph spoke with dennehy and gilberto motto, director of education for el salvador, to delve into the country’s struggles and successes in bitcoin (btc) education and to understand the pace at which it is spreading between the land of the volcanoes.

the genesis block

When El Salvador adopted bitcoin as legal tender on June 8, 2021, very few Salvadorans other than President Nayib Bukele could explain concepts like seed phrases, satoshis, or mining. There was “Bitcoin Beach,” the name given to the sleepy surf town of El Zonte, the birthplace of bitcoin adoption in El Salvador.

but the 3,000 local residents would have to work hard to teach the remaining 6 million people. in fact, Salvadorans would require hundreds of hours of training, apprenticeship, and “orange pills” to be able to save and transact in bitcoin.

The moment Bukele onboarded up to 6 million people into the Bitcoin protocol. Source: Twitter

A mammoth task loomed for the Salvadoran government. Motto told Cointelegraph that as per Article 6 of the Bitcoin Law, “The State will provide training on the use of this cryptocurrency.” However, what would that training look like? How could the state rapidly and effectively introduce Bitcoin classes when they themselves would also have to get to grips with new money?

Meanwhile, bitcoiners, commentators, and mainstream media watched the El Salvador experiment unfold. Dennehy, who had spent the past living and working in Latin America, told Cointelegraph that after the law was announced, he had to get to the country as soon as possible:

dennehy had been “predisposed to the separation of money and state” for some time, and first learning of satoshi nakamoto’s innovation while living in ecuador in 2013, he became an avid bitcoiner. he jokes that based on the experiences of most “og” bitcoiners the first exchange he bought btc on was hacked causing him to lose around 2 btc at the time which is now worth over $ 40,000 at time of writing.

Almost 10 years later and after the arrival of the first country to adopt bitcoin, he had to find a way to collaborate. he flew to el salvador the second the opportunity allowed him. However, like other bitcoiners who made the pilgrimage to El Salvador, he was struck by the number of merchants and sellers who accept bitcoins. “Indeed, there were no [traders] when the law went into effect,” Dennehy told Cointelegraph in May.

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rikki, a bitcoin podcaster and human rights activist who spent 45 days living in el salvador living off bitcoin and nothing else, told cointelegraph similar stories about his travels in bitcoin land: “no one here knows anything about bitcoin. [the government] did not provide even a second of education to the people of El Salvador.”

motto explained to cointelegraph that bitcoin has since been incorporated into financial education as well as financial education programs across the country. motto told cointelegraph that “the ministry of education, science and technology is working together with several institutions related to bitcoin in the country”:

Still, relying on a government or third party to get things done would be contrary to the ethos of bitcoin, that of “don’t trust, verify”. A grassroots bitcoin education campaign that spreads like the web, one that complements and extends the government’s bitcoin education plans, would be well suited.

my first bitcoin, founded by dennehy in 2021, is a non-governmental organization that offers free bitcoin education to salvadorans. it has since received funding from lookingglass, as well as ibex market, a provider of bitcoin and lightning network services.

This is an initiative worth investing time and effort in. I have a few places open for bitcoiners who want to help and make a difference, at the grassroots level. if you are interested, send me a private message.

the project came to dennehy during her first conversations with salvadorans as she became familiar with her new home. he would casually ask, “do you take bitcoin?” And he noticed that many people were not only not accepting bitcoin, but were asking Dennehy to explain decentralized currency to them.

“were interested in knowing more. they saw something with varying degrees of level of knowledge, but generally low, low but interested, ”he said.

Some of the early faculty in the program attended preliminary meetings that Dennehy hosted in Airbnbs and meeting rooms. the first class took place on sept. on January 24, 2021 in a yoga studio “because we were starting from scratch,” detailed Dennehy.

“We had no funds, we had no spaces. […] and in fact, in our first class a student came, ”he said.

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Shameless and with a conviction forged in multiple bitcoin bear markets, dennehy and his team pressed forward. by october classes had grown to almost 80 students, and by november it had more than 250. the price of bitcoin was also starting to skyrocket, a likely catalyst:

However, interest remained during the 2022 price action. Class numbers reached all-time highs in April of this year of over 800 students, while the price sank to yearly lows. Classes boil down to financial literacy, from the history of money to the problems money solves, Dennehy explained. financial education and bitcoin education go hand in hand.

motto coincided with dennehy’s assessment, stating that bitcoin and financial education must work together in el salvador: “savings, paying taxes, planning expenses, personal or family budgets and other concepts are still valid at this time , and unfortunately not all the population knows about them and knows how to take advantage of them.”

More importantly, the bitcoin diploma program is aimed at teenagers, that is, those most eager to learn about money, since they know that money is intrinsically related to their independence. it’s a smart move dennehy state as they are more likely to spread the bitcoin message throughout el salvador :

The exam for the bitcoin diploma, taken in week 10, is divided into four parts. the first part is to create a wallet and then restore it to another device. the second task is to make a transaction on the chain, find the transaction in the blockchain explorer, and then explain why the transactions can be considered final.

El Salvador’s ‘My First Bitcoin’: How to teach a nation about crypto

One year since his arrival, Dennehy “would put the number at 10% of the population now is an active Bitcoin user.” Similarly, Cointelegraph reported that as much as one-fifth of merchants in El Salvador now accept Bitcoin.

Related: Morgan Stanley encourages investors to buy battered El Salvador Eurobonds

Obviously the progress is good, but Dennehy emphasized that bitcoin is a global currency. the progress achieved in el salvador could be reflected throughout the world:

explained that “once we create a successful template here, the idea is to rename it to bitcoin, el salvador, and then open bitcoin.”

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