Certainly one of the most important issues of our time is the Internet and the revolution it has produced in all areas, in terms of both depth and breadth. It should be compared more or less to what happened with the arrival of electricity in the world. I think that in a sense it impacts all activities. I believe one of the most important infrastructure challenges facing us is extending broadband to all countries and in all countries. Because when we talk about connectivity, we are also talking about digital inclusion. And digital inclusion entails large and heavy investments in that infrastructure and, more than ever, we need public-private partnerships in order to meet this challenge.
In fact, I believe we often think that public-private partnerships are a success in the area of infrastructure alone. I want to report one of the most important experiences that occurred in Brazil, which is the Brazilian challenge of not only raising the level of education, quality higher education, but also of creating the conditions for technical and vocational education to reach the largest number of Brazilians and ensuring a vocational training that, when mature, could transform the efficiency and productivity levels of the country’s economy. I am referring to a public-private partnership established for the largest technical training program that Brazil has ever had: a program called Pronatec. With this partnership that involved national confederations of industry, agriculture, services, transport - private confederations - the Ministry of Education, and the country's entire vocational training school infrastructure, we have succeeded in training eight million people. And we are now going into the second stage to train an additional eight million people. Why am I saying this? Because I believe that President Obama has raised an important point. I think that the partnership model is the recognition that there are activities that the State does not do well alone, and there are other activities that require the State's presence to regulate the conditions under which the services are offered. Obviously, always updating the regulatory frameworks. But in the specific case of education, I believe that the Internet can fulfill the dual role of inclusion, that is, qualitative access and also qualitative improvement in education, improving and ensuring greater efficiency in access to what will be the best practices in education, the best educational contents, the best educational software, so that, particularly in countries with very large populations such as Brazil, with 200 million people, we can achieve this combination of classroom learning and e-learning using the very best possible software.
I also believe that a very important issue that should attract the attention, the full attention of governments and the private sector, is the issue of the quality of education in our countries. This quality of education is often seen only in the upper levels, in secondary and higher education. But we know, especially those countries that have in their youth and children their greatest wealth, as is the case of Brazil, that we need some fundamental things. First, we need early childhood education. By that I mean what we call creches (day care centers) and pré-escolas (preschools). Because there lies the root of inequality. So day care centers of [...] national quality standards are critical if you want to truly tackle inequality. Another key issue is literacy at the right age and training and skill-building for teachers and principals, which, to be achieved on a large scale will also require the Internet. I am focusing on the Internet because I consider that one of the most important reform steps that the country, that Brazil has taken in recent years was the so-called Marco Civil da Internet ("Internet Governance Framework"), in which we recognize not only the freedom of speech, free expression of opinion and the right to privacy, but also the neutrality of the web. This shows that this regulatory framework will enable an expansion, along with the expansion of the broadband infrastructure, a change, a revolution in the structure of connectivity, of the digitalization of information. And then we come to another issue that I also consider to be very important, which is the impact of this revolution on government. Today we have a Transparency Portal that ensures that all transactions effected in the previous 24 hours are available 24 hours later at the government's Transparency Portal. I agree with President Obama that both our ability to render account, the so-called accountability, and the ability to ensure the transparency and effective allocation of public money to what it was originally intended, that is, the systematic fight against misdeeds and corruption cases, also ensures a more efficient public system in any country.
Incidentally, another great challenge that I believe we have to face is the challenge of State reform, of ensuring that the State reduces bureaucracy, that the State does not treat its citizens as many, but rather as a single citizen. And that also means, necessarily, using the Internet. We have a great instrument, which by itself does not guarantee the debureaucratization of the State, but is an essential element for this to occur, in that it allows for truly unifying registries and processes, for starting and closing companies as fast as possible. For some countries this might not be so relevant, but for Brazil it is very important that we can close companies in 24 hours, and that we can start companies also within short time spans. Because in a public-private partnership we have to assess the weight of the State and its benefits. The weight occurs when we have the chaotic expansion of bureaucracy, of outdated regulatory frameworks; and the benefits occur when the State becomes more efficient, more agile and also ensures greater public management capacity.
Finally, I consider an issue raised here to be very important, and I think it needs to be further elaborated on, which is, in fact, a road map that points towards best practices in the area of innovation, and their dissemination to countries still at medium levels of technology and technology development. I believe this will be an important step in Latin America for us to move towards systems of innovation, of scientific and technological research and of dissemination of these best practices.
Finally, I want to conclude by pointing out that, to me, the great challenge of countries like Brazil is education. We consider that the issue of education must be central to the process, regarding both economic growth and social inclusion. We need, in fact, to engage in activities that add value, that lead to innovation and that are not restricted simply to the traditional specialization practices of the labor universe in a world that assigns to Latin American countries the role of a commodities exporter. I believe that Latin America and all of us have to aspire to be producers of added value, users of knowledge, as a way of ensuring that our people, in fact, have access to a middle-class standard of living. What does a middle-class standard of living mean to me? I think that to all of us it means better wages, it means a very strong commitment to entrepreneurship. Because entrepreneurship is at the root, I believe, of adding value in our countries, of the ability to encourage and ensure greater entrepreneurship. Because from my point of view, small and medium enterprises are as fundamental as the labor and business sectors. Small and micro enterprises and entrepreneurs must have a central role, and also in this case I think that technology can help us, that the Internet makes the difference.