Free laptop scheme likely be replaced by computer tab project
The free laptop computer scheme for the students in the state-run schools and colleges, a pet project of the then-late chief minister J Jayalalithaa, is likely to get altered as the Tamil Nadu government is planning to introduce computer tabs in that welfare system.
Tamil Nadu is the only State implementing the Scheme of distribution of laptop computers to the students in the entire country, from 2011-12 onwards. Under the scheme, 51.67 lakh laptop computers have been distributed free of cost to students at a total cost of Rs 7,257.61 crore from 2011-12 to 2019 -2020.
Accordingly, plus two students in government and government-aided schools and first-year students studying in State-run Arts, Science, Engineering and Polytechnic colleges were benefitting, under the Scheme.
The previous AIADMK government had assured that the scheme will continue to be implemented during 2020-2021 and it was also proposed to distribute laptop computers to 5 lakh students at an allocation of Rs 949.30 crore.
Accordingly, an international tender was floated in December 2020 by Electronics Corporation of Tamilnadu Ltd (ELCOT). A senior official from the ELCOT, seeking anonymity, said that the tender to procure laptop computers was kept in "abience".
Even School Education Minister Anbil Mahesh Poyyamozhi had recently indicated that instead of distributing laptops to the students, they would be provided with tabs.
Adding to the minister's statement the ELCOT official said that authorities were working out the configuration of the computer tabs according to the student's requirements. "It might vary for school and college students", he added and however said that there was no official circular in this regard.
A senior official from the Special Programme Implementation Department, which monitors all welfare schemes in the State, added that an international tender will be floated soon to purchase the computer tablets, which would be distributed to students free of cost.
"However, there is no time frame has been fixed till now to float the tender", he said adding "the free computer tab scheme will be cost-effective compared to laptop scheme".
The official also disclosed that more students from lower standards (below Class XII) will also be added to the beneficiary's list to get computer tabs. "It is just initial stage, everything will be clearly announced during the demand for grants of the department concerned in the Tamil Nadu Assembly", he pointed out.