By Vafa İsmayilova
The coronavirus pandemic, which began in early 2020 in Azerbaijan, has radically changed the way of life in soceity and created different attitude to values. What did not seem important a few months ago has become very important in the new environment. The pandemic created the need for the rapid development of areas, which developed slowly until the recent past.
Paradoxically, if the Second World War gave impetus to scientific and technological progress in the 20th century, now the coronavirus can provide this opportunity. That is, the new conditions highlight the comprehensive digitalization, the development of digital technologies as an important event of the time.
COVID-19 makes ICT popular in Azerbaijan
Azerbaijanis try to build their whole lives from education to entertainment using the opportunities created by ICT.
The demand for ICT in Azerbaijan and the importance of using distance education is growing in the country.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Azerbaijan, almost every family has got acquainted with this form of the educational process organized on the basis of electronic, telecommunications, software and hardware. The process seemed unrealistic for the country before the pandemic.
Moreover, one of the main activities of the Azerbaijani state in the field of ICT for many years was the e-Government portal. It aims to reduce the "distance" between civil servants and citizens, as well as to simplify and make these relations more transparent.
It is also commendable that the closed cultural centers - museums, theaters, exhibition halls, houses of culture, music schools, concert halls which temporarily suspended their activities in Azerbaijan due to pandemic can present their events online.
Some cultural centers had some experience in this field. In Azerbaijan, e-library has not been so popular for more than a decade. During this period, thanks to the strong activities of mobile operators, people were able to easily perform many tasks via the Internet.
The current situation has made e-commerce even more important. A single e-commerce platform has been created in Azerbaijan, which will be considered Amazon. Here it is possible to carry out e-sales at low prices for local companies, regardless of the type of activity.
Today, the activity of various institutions in social networks is also an indicator of the development of ICT.
Both public and private sector organizations now want to have an official page approved on social networks and communicate with citizens through these pages. During the pandemic, people prefer to shop online through the official pages of stores on social networks.
Azerbaijan’s strategic approach
Against the background of global developments around the pandemic, Azerbaijan assessed the situation accurately and in detail, demonstrated a strategic approach to the issue, not spontaneous, situational, and thanks to these measures, the virus was prevented from reaching uncontrollable levels in the country.
The country's digitalization policy has played an important role in determining the optimal solutions to these issues, as the development and application of information and communication technologies has always been one of the priorities of President Ilham Aliyev.
At a virtual meeting on May 15, 2020, Aliyev praised the work done in this area in the country. Here, the head of state stressed:
“It is impossible to work in an isolated environment during the pandemic without information technology. For example, my meetings, the summits I hold in the form of videoconferences, are not possible without modern technology. Therefore, the issue has been raised in the economic sphere, as well as in education, health, agriculture, and other areas, including the control of our water resources, the formation of water balance and the reduction of losses. Therefore, this area, everyone should know, is a step into the future.”
Aliyev noted at that meeting that Azerbaijan cannot be late for the process.
“If we are late we will lose. Therefore, we have mobilized all our resources, including financial, intellectual and human resources," the president said.
The transition of societies to digitalization is a matter of time, and these conditions open up unprecedented prospects. The process accelerated during the pandemic and created new opportunities for many activities. Conducting various types of events, meetings, interviews in video format, conducting online training to ensure the sustainability of the educational process, etc. is an example to this.
In other words, the positive impact of the current pandemic on the development of digital technologies is obvious. There is no doubt that the experience gained during this period can make a difference in the development of IT society.
It seems that no matter how sad the situation, it gives great hope for the future. In this regard, the analysis of the manifestations of the lifestyles of societies after the pandemic created by the new coronavirus raises special questions for researchers.
It is clear that the development of any country is closely linked to the education system, which is the leading structure of society. In this sense, this area has undergone significant changes.
The new conditions created by the pandemic have created an urgent need to find ways out of the situation. That is, the development of opportunities for digital education to ensure the sustainability and quality of education, the creation of strong networks for this is one of the top priorities of the time.
Of course, in order to carry out these activities, the society must have the appropriate level of preparation. Here, along with the necessary techniques, the most important condition is that teachers have a level of online training. During the pandemic, however, few teachers were found to have digital and ICT skills. The current period provides an opportunity for both students and teachers to take a creative approach to mutual, fair cooperation and making knowledge a priority.
In this extraordinary age of the world, digital services have played an exceptional role. The Internet has enabled people to work, communicate, and meet other needs. The results show that humanity is entering a completely new era in the true sense of the word, and the successful development of societies will depend on their ability to meet the requirements of this era.
Despite all challenges, Azerbaijan seems to be at the forefront of this process, as President Ilham Aliyev is confident that “in the coming years, Azerbaijan will further strengthen its leadership in the field of information and communication technologies”.
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