No deadline for handing over free laptops to students: V Sivankutty

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Thiruvananthapuram: Minister for General Education V Sivankutty told the State Assembly that the government could not specify when laptops could be provided to students without digital educational devices under the 'Vidyakiranam' scheme.

The minister expressed helplessness saying the government had convened six meetings in this regard, and requested several people for donations. "What more can the government do? Could it be possible to forcefully take money from those who are unwilling to donate?" he told the Assembly in reply to a question.

Unsatisfied, Opposition members said the minister's reply lacked clarity. The Opposition had sought answers to whether the project was in a crisis, if the tendering process had failed and whether steps would be initiated to distribute laptops.

The tendering process for the 'Vidyakiranam' scheme, which envisaged the distribution of laptops free of cost to 3.5 lakh poor students for digital learning, has been cancelled, Onmanorama had reported earlier.

The minister replied that 45,313 laptops received through the Vidyashree scheme were included in the Vidyakiranam programme and distributed among students from scheduled tribes and communities. The Kerala Infrastructure and Technology for Education (KITE), too, distributed an equal number of laptops, he told the House.

Sivankutty further informed that tenders would be invited afresh for acquiring laptops. Only two companies had evinced interest while the first tender was floated, and those firms that participated in the second process demanded a higher price, the minister said.

Congress MLA P C Vishnunadh wondered how the government had distributed exactly 45,313 of laptops through Vidyashree and Vidhyakiranam schemes as well as with the participation of KITE. He demanded to know how 45,313 laptops were distributed under the Vidyakiranam project without inviting tenders.

Vidyakiranam aims at assisting children of differently-abled parents, while Vidyashree was conceived to provide laptops to students at a subsidised rate. The cost of the laptop could be paid in 30 instalments.  

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