Published: 27th June 2022
Students disappointed as AP gov't drops laptops and announces distribution of tablets
An extra financial burden of Rs 657 crore would fall on the state if laptops were purchased at the rate quoted by the suppliers, an official dealing with the issue pointed out
The Andhra Pradesh government, led by YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, left several lakh students studying in Classes IX to XII in disappointment as the government decided to drop the distribution of laptops. As the government fails in standing on its own promises, its sources say that the proposal to distribute laptops was dropped as they were costly and many digital learning apps don't work on them, as stated in a report by PTI.
A senior education official stated, "Now, the government is contemplating to distribute only tablets to students of Class VIII. Each tab, loaded with digital learning content, will cost the government Rs 12,000. We are planning to distribute the tabs by September this year." According to the official, "As the Class VIII students will have to carry the same tab to further classes, a laptop will not be required."
In 2021, the Chief Minister announced that students of Classes IX to XII could opt for laptop computers in lieu of the Rs 15,000 dole (now reduced by Rs 2,000) under the Ammavodi scheme, which is meant to encourage mothers to send their children to schools. He said that the laptops would be delivered in the 2022 academic year, as stated in a report by PTI.
Based on this, 8,21,655 students of Classes IX to XII opted for laptops instead of the cash dole. Over 1.10 lakh of these students were otherwise covered under Vasati Deevena, another freebie scheme. But the government failed to fulfil its promises as it didn't strike a deal with the suppliers over prices.
Recently, Education Minister Botsa Satyanarayana said, "They were negotiating the price with the suppliers and it would have been finalised and the laptops delivered to students along with Ammavodi." However, the CM only launched the distribution of the cash freebie in the third round of Ammavodi, on Monday. While addressing people at the Ammavodi event, the CM only spoke about the distribution of tabs to Class VIII students and did not mention the laptops.
A Class X student, K Naga Prabha of Guntur, lamented, "I am in Class X and opted for a laptop instead of cash. But now we are told that there is no laptop. I may have to wait for another year, if they give it in junior inter (Class XI)."
Government sources stated that the AP Technology Services (APTS) was given the task of procuring laptops and the APTS sought to purchase each laptop for Rs 18,000, depending on the configuration. It is said that the suppliers quoted Rs 26,000 per laptop, which made it unaffordable to the government.
A top official dealing with this issue said, "There was also the problem of supply. The required number of gadgets were not readily available due to scarce production, caused by a shortage of chipsets," as stated in a report by PTI. He further pointed out that, "The extra financial burden on the state would be Rs 657 crore if laptops were purchased at the rate quoted by the suppliers."