Waitlist swells to 10L, but govt yet to restart free laptop scheme
CHENNAI: The list of beneficiaries for the free laptop for students scheme, which came to a grinding halt in 2020 due to the pandemic, has gone past a million but authorities have not made any progress in implementing it this academic year despite the situation becoming normal.
Since the scheme was launched in 2011-12, around 5.4 lakh students have benefited every year. But the March 2020 lockdown put a pause to it.
“The backlog of beneficiaries started from 2020-21. Though the tender was floated in 2019-20, it was not properly executed due to technical reasons,” a senior official from the School Education Department said on condition of anonymity.
“Students, who had resigned themselves to the fact that they could not get the laptops due to the lockdown, were expecting that the new government would immediately procure and distribute the laptops. But though it did not scrap it even after the regime change, the government said it would implement the scheme with modifications and improvements,” he added.
In its policy note, the government had said the number of beneficiaries for 2021-22 would be about 5.44 lakh students.
“But no money has been allocated in this regard,” said the official.
Even if the scheme is revived immediately, it would take at least three to four months to procure the laptops because the tender process involves international bidding.
When asked, sources from Electronic Corporation of Tamil Nadu (ELCOT), the agency that purchases laptops for the scheme, said the project was still on.