Q -If you compare the current situation with the 2000 or 2008 crisis — what is different from your point of view?
VP -Compared to 2008 — Corona has a greater emotional impact on all of us. In the financial crisis, you could blame others who caused it, and they had to make up for it, and no one had sympathy.
I think the last crisis alienated people and distanced us from each other. This crisis brings us all together. Whether you are rich or poor, whether you have children or not. Everyone is challenged right now: We’re all in this together — that makes the crisis more human, but also more existential, because it affects many more people.
Compared to 2000 — I was in my early 20s and it hit me very hard because it almost felt like the end of a future dream. Back then, the future was finally within my grasp and it felt like the important time in life was about to kick off. Then the crisis came, and I had the feeling that the future had been abolished. I think there’s a lesson we can learn from the period around 2000: Life goes on, and we now should not put innovation, startups, entrepreneurship to the test and say “Well, if so many of them didn’t get through the crisis now, then this doesn’t seem to be the best answer to the future.”
On the contrary — in the future we need more entrepreneurs who will help rebuild this country, more courage, and more willingness to make decisions.
Q -With thousands of schools being closed right now in Germany — what is the impact of Corona on the school system in our country and worldwide?
VP -At this point, Corona is like a catalyst or in other words probably the best tutor our school system could have wished for: for the first time we are forced to deal with what digital education actually means.
I have been pushing this issue for 8 years and I have said over and over again that schools are not well-equipped: we have a great social injustice because many children have no devices at all and are completely cut off from issues such as media or digital literacy and only play on smartphones and use them as Game Boys. This crisis shows that the’DigitalPakt Schule’ is not a ‘nice to have’. It must be part of our future aspirations in Germany, and we should prepare schools to train the engineers and developers of tomorrow. Despite all the negative aspects of this outbreak, it is positive that for the first time all teachers had to say: “Okay, now I’m going to get an overview of all existing tools. I’m going to put pressure on the school that we need interactive formats”. And again, when you deal with something new, your reluctance to adopt the tool decreases over time.