Free laptop scheme back on track with govt planning to procure 5.3 lakh sets
As the Tamil Nadu government was unable to distribute the full quota of free laptops to students studying in the State-run schools this academic year due to lockdown, the scheme is now set to be back on track from March 2021.
In the 2020-21 State budget, it was decided to procure more than five lakh laptops at a cost of Rs 950 crore. However, due to the increase in the number of coronavirus cases in the State, government and government-aided schools were closed since March and the procurement and distribution of laptops were stopped.
A senior official from the Special Programme Implementation Department, which monitors the scheme, said, every year, the distribution begins soon after the schools and polytechnic colleges reopen in June.
“The distribution will be completed by October so that board exam students in the schools and pupils in government polytechnic college will have enough time to prepare,” he added.
“However, it could not be distributed this academic year due to the pandemic,” he said, adding, “even the purchase of laptops from multinational companies were delayed since they were not able to supply it due to transportation issues in the lockdown period.” The official said, with the lockdown relaxations and the decrease in the number of coronavirus cases, the government has floated an internationally competitive bid to purchase 5.32 lakh laptops.
They will be distributed to 5.19 lakh Class 11 students, 11,533 to first-year polytechnic students, 463 differently-abled Class 11 students, and 1,293 Class 12 physically challenged candidates.
He pointed out that they will be distributed only to the students who cleared board exams. “The laptops will come with 2.0 GHz Pentium processor and 500 GB hard disk besides integrated graphics supporting 128 MB VRAM or higher version,” the official said.
Stating that each laptop will be Windows 10 pro-national academic edition, the official claimed to provide one year warranty, including battery. The government will set up computer hardware units in all the districts to look into repair issues.
Under the scheme, 51.67 lakh laptops have been distributed free of cost to students at a cost of Rs 7257.61 crore from 2011-12 to 2019 -20.