This morning, on my 14th day of voluntary quarantine, I was thinking how in so few days so many things have been triggered one after another, all the eagerness to effectively fight this coronavirus pandemic and to be able, as much as possible, to make life go on without having to paralyze absolutely everything we were doing just a few weeks ago.
We have seen how video conferencing systems and tools that facilitate remote work have grown exponentially in a couple of weeks around the world. Social networks are plagued with streams sharing all kinds of content, much of it concerning how we can adapt to our new life.
In record time we see that, in the case of Chile, the Civil Registry has a web and mobile platform to do procedures that until days ago had to be done only in their offices, in a schedule deeply incompatible with work and other activities. The Ministry of Education has enabled and nurtured a portal with pedagogical material so that children lose as little content as possible in their curricula.
Beyond technological comments or whether this is the best way to implement things (I am not willing to criticize in times of crisis), I am left with a reflection that I want to share in this post….
The problem has never been either budget or technology, our gap has constantly been one of mental paradigm, willingness and commitment to carry out changes. All this that has been activated now remotely we could have had it before, but in this context it became urgent and therefore the capabilities (that we already had as a society or State) have been put to create new ways to make things simpler and from anywhere.
Then, why not think about a real modernization of the State, where we can do almost all (or directly all) the procedures remotely? how much money, infrastructure, personnel, etc., can we save from the resources of all citizens? when education has become a huge business, with institutions that clearly charge unrealistic values, both for what they deliver and for the economic reality of our country (and Latin America in general), and in a short time a Ministerial portal becomes available, then is it not possible to continue advancing in a robust system of flexible training available to all families, schools, universities, institutes, etc.? Couldn’t this help us to improve education and spend less resources, enhancing new ways of teaching and learning (new for the system, because the world has already changed in this during the last two decades)?
All this seems to me to be excellent news. That is to say, it was never a matter of money, nor of capacity, much less of available technology, but it is a matter of mentality, commitment and willingness. If we use this pandemic as an opportunity we can learn many things, among them that both the public and private sector can innovate, be more accessible, closer, easier, cheaper, and a long etcetera.
I hope that these steps, in response to a crisis, are the first step in what ends up being a better place to live and work, where we understand that the world has changed and that we must also change ourselves and hopefully our authorities will do so, which would do them and the country a lot of good.