From the academic year 2011-12 onwards, the TN govt has been distributing free laptops to those students studying in the govt schools. This free distribution of laptops came to a halt in 2020. The reason for that was the state government was not able to procure the laptops due to the Coronavirus pandemic lockdown etc. Now, the number of beneficiaries have gone up to more than 15 lakhs in the state.
It must be recalled that TN has been the one and only state across entire India to distribute free laptops to the students studying in the govt schools and govt colleges etc. In 6 phases, beginning from 2011-12 to 2019-20, 51.67 lakhs laptops have been distributed for free to the students and a mammoth amount of Rs 7257.61 crores has been spent on this scheme.
By using these free laptops from the TN govt, the students were able to access and utilise e-journals, e-books and video tutorials etc. The students were also able to access online libraries plus use social media to develop their abilities and improve their standards etc.
It was later explained by a senior officer from the Higher Education Department that the government at that time in 2020-21 had announced that the free laptop scheme would continue for the students. The government at that time was supposed to provide free laptops to about 5lakhs students at a cost of Rs 949.3 crores. To procure 15.66 lakhs laptops, the previous government floated an international tender but due to some technical issues it could not be carried out. In addition, Covid 19 induced lockdown created more issues and the distribution of free laptops was stopped.
The senior officer mentioned that the current TN govt has been trying to implement this superb scheme once again but the specified chip and configuration for laptops was unavailable in the international market. As a result, the tender process has been stopped now.
It is learnt that the configuration has dual boot facility offering both Windows 10 Pro National Academic Edition and BOSS/Linux from the Centre for Development of advanced Computing or CDAC. The authorities would have to change the design of the computer system to suit the current needs as it was difficult to procure the required configuration. Truth is that even if the scheme was revised it would take another 3 to 4 months to procure the laptops as the tender process involves international bidding.