Schooling merits attention. During the first industrial upheaval, steam-powered engines triggered a waterfall of global disruptions. The middle-class was born. General public education was introduced. And while there was widespread expectation that jobs would be lost, job opportunities blossomed proportional to the economic expansion. During the 4th Industrial Revolution, the Coronavirus accelerated the “Twin Transitions” to green and digitalized economies. However, public education was disrupted resulting in learning loss. But, virtual learning alone is unlikely to evoke the fundamental problem framing necessary to bring about shifts in the ecology of schooling. Changes that make central the Digital Citizen who transcends the national and initiates a drift to the “original position” of equality — from behind a Rawlsian veil of ignorance.

From this stance of immaculate perception, bureaucrats will handpick liberties that dampen unfreedoms affecting the least advantaged. They will design an ecology of learning open to multiple interpretations. A curriculum that is undefended, incomplete, and undetermined. After all, as the light of fresh knowledge spreads, so too does the darkness of our ignorance with every creative advance. We will write a curriculum thick with recursion that allows a learner to use knowledge heuristically. A curriculum with richness, depth, layers of authenticity, multiple possibilities, indeterminacy, lived experience, disequilibrium, problematics, and perturbations. A curriculum folded in relations and cross-connections delivered as a hybrid model of f2f pedagogy and virtual experiences.

Already we are enfolded by intelligent machines and interfaces inside a new layer of reality pivoting on the abundance of information. This advance consists of inventing new processes and smart objects, as well as making old ones more intelligent. The knowledge content of these outcomes is more valuable than the objects themselves. What remains invaluable is not the advance but the people who make new knowledge. For countless children in the poorest segment of society, virtual school alone is simply not an option. Lockdowns have affected the outlook of every child and many children may never return to school. Others may begin their work-life too early.

In working to accelerate support for the pandemic and other development priorities in the region, the World Bank notes that across Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), all children have experienced learning loss that is set to undermine their future income and social mobility prospects. Moreover, disruptions to learning are not over. Student attendance rates now lag significantly behind pre-pan­demic levels.

Children from high-income habitus were 21 percentage points more likely to have participated in a pandemic learning pod to support either academic or mental health recovery. Others experienced private tutoring, attended top-up classes, counselling, and mentoring sessions. If current trends hold up, children from affluent families could recover unfinished learning by the close of this academic year. Underprivileged students, meanwhile, could remain up to a grade level behind their classmates. Some countries funded a “recovery premium” for educators to deliver 100 hours of extra teaching aimed at disadvantaged pupils.

Studies across LAC countries may unmask the actual amount of unfinished learning and establish that the distributive justice of the outcomes is far from equitable. Studies across schools in LAC states may also show that the variation among students within a single school may be typically three times greater than the variation among schools in a particular district. McKinsey (December 2021) outlines a K-shaped recovery pathway for schooling that requires the cessation of disruptions as a preamble to recovery strategies that aim to close both pre-existing and new opportunity and achievement gaps.

Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) is a collective of 42 states that represent 15% of the world’s land area. It is home to 8.4% of the world’s total population. The World Bank classifies the world’s economies into four income groups—low, lower-middle, upper-middle, and high-income countries. This taxonomy is updated annually on July 1. The categorizations change as in each country, dimensions like economic and population growth, inflation, and exchange rates impact GNI per capita.

However, juxtaposed against many significant advances for some LAC countries are a range of structural issues that span precarious labour markets, inequity, and economic susceptibility. According to the United Nations (2021), LAC countries have been the most negatively impacted developing region in the world, experiencing 28% of global deaths from COVID-19. LAC countries have also contracted economically by 7.7% (ECLAC, 2021) and have been assessed to have lost about 26 million jobs (ILO, 2021).

Digital transformation could significantly turn LAC’s current social and economic challenges into prospects to develop lives. This will involve inventive and disruptive changes to business models, value chains, and production systems resulting in chances that strengthen competitiveness, resilience and social inclusiveness. Competitiveness is the crux of digital transformation. And there is no competitiveness outside of Network Readiness and enhancing Robot Density across industries.

“Next” also needs legislation specific to human interaction with machines. Robots are complex “digital products” that work in accordance with code but are also now capable of autonomous actions. Digital transformation reframes man in society along with schools and industry clouds. Tony Blair’s slogan was: “Education, Education, Education.” His hope was to raise the ambitions of all young people and to make England – A Learning Society.