The state government has replaced the free laptop scheme with the free tablet scheme.
The free tablet PC scheme will replace the free laptop scheme for students studying in government colleges across the state.
Due to budget constraints and cheaper tablets, the government will now be providing free tablets to students instead of laptops, said Dr. Nandita Prasad, informatics officer at the Department of Collegiate Education (DCE). Data by the DCE, shows that around 3.5 lakh students have benefitted from the free laptop scheme during the distribution drives in 2017-18 and 2019-20.
Under the free laptop scheme, only SC/ST students were provided with laptops whereas under the free tablet PC scheme, every student enrolled in government colleges will be provided a tablet. This will make education accessible to all students especially during the ongoing pandemic, said Dr. Veena, faculty at the Department of Sociology at Maharani Cluster University, Bangalore.
Earlier this year, the government launched the free tablet PC scheme 2021 which aimed at providing 1.55 lakh students in government colleges with free tablets. The estimated budget for this scheme is around Rs.160 cr. The average cost of a tablet will be Rs.10,000 each.
Dr. Veena, said that the college distributed 206 free laptops in 2017-18, and 607 in 2019-20 to the students in SC/ST category.
Kulsoom, a student at Maharani Cluster University, said that she, along with a few other girls from her batch got free laptops under the scheme in 2017-18. However, students like Salman, from Government Arts College, did not get anything from the government or the college. “A lot of students don’t even have any idea about such schemes,” said Salman. The state government officially launched the free laptop scheme in 2017-18. The scheme was revised this year to invite applications from students who have passed their class 12th examinations and are currently in their first year of college. The government allocated Rs. 299 cr for this scheme which aimed at benefiting around 1.50 lakh students belonging to SC/ST categories, pursuing professional degree programs. Under the scheme, laptops ranging from Rs.32,000 to Rs.35,000 were supposed to be issued to each student. The state government also released the list of colleges with the number of students who were to benefit under the scheme for 2020-21.