Kerala's free laptop scheme for poor students comes a cropper, tendering process cancelled

Laptop for children
Image for representation only.

Thiruvananthapuram: 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.

A high-level meeting chaired by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan the other day decided to cancel the tendering process. The official clarification is that the tender process has been cancelled as the companies have quoted very high amounts for supply of laptops.

Now, the tendering process has to start afresh by inviting new bids, taking a lot of time. So, the chances of poor students getting laptops this academic year have receded.

In the survey conducted by the State Education Department, it was found that 4.75 lakh students did not have laptops for digital learning. Of these students, around 1.25 lakh have already been provided with mobile phones for their studies. The tender was invited for providing laptops or Chromebooks or tablets for the rest of the students.

Leading companies in the computer market such as Acer, Samsung and HP attended the bidding process. They quoted Rs 30,000 for a single piece while the government offered Rs 20,000 per one piece.

The companies have cited restrictions imposed for imports and the shortage of laptops in the international market are the main reason for the price hike. They also asked for three to six months for the supply of laptops.

The scheme was envisaged to ensure digital learning facilities for students from poor households.

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