Tiruchy students urge gov't to revive free laptop scheme

An official indicated that the government is focusing on enhancing tech-based education, having established over 6,218 computer laboratories in recent years
School Education Minister Anbil Mahesh Poyyamozhi responded to the queries
School Education Minister Anbil Mahesh Poyyamozhi responded to the queries (Pic: EdexLive Desk)

With a surge in popularity of domains like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data science, students entering Class XI and those pursing graduation after Class XII in Tiruchy district have urged the state government to either revive the free laptop scheme launched by former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa in 2011 or fulfil the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam's (DMK) electoral promise of providing free tablets with 4G connectivity.

Recently, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) had taken to social media questioning the government's stance on the free laptop scheme ahead of commencement of the new academic year.

The government, however, blamed the previous Edappadi K Palaniswami-led AIADMK government for halting the scheme in 2020, citing the COVID-19 pandemic, which affected 1.25 lakh students across the state.

In response to queries over the scheme, School Education Minister Anbil Mahesh Poyyamozhi, in a recent press meet, said, "Necessary steps will be taken to distribute free laptops to over 11 lakh government and aided school students."

Earlier, he had cited financial constraints in executing the free laptop scheme.

Students speak

A student, who recently completed Class XII from a government school, said, "I have taken a AI and Data Science course. A laptop would be helpful if provided soon."

Another student who scored centums in two subjects in Class X exams, has now opted for Computer Science course in Class XII. He said, "I wanted to pursue data science. To learn the fundamentals of coding, a laptop with good processor costs around Rs 30,000. As my father is a daily wage labourer, we cannot afford to buy a laptop. I sincerely urge the chief minister to provide us with free laptops."

S Ramesh, who now runs an e-centre in Namakkal, said, "Till now I keep the laptop provided by the government for sentiment's sake. I received the laptop when I was studying in college. It was the first time I used a laptop freely, as computers could only be be used for a short period. Only with the skills learned through the laptop am I able to make a living."

S Prabhakaran, State President of Tamil Nadu Post Graduate Teachers Association, pointed out the scheme's impact on rural students.

"More students from rural areas benefited from the scheme. Given the current interest in computer science, AI, and data science courses, lack of free laptops is a significant setback. We have adopted a resolution in our meeting urging the government to continue such welfare schemes," he said.

Meanwhile, sources in the education department said, "As of now, no tenders for laptop procurement have been floated yet."

The official indicated that the government is focusing on enhancing tech-based education, having established over 6,218 computer laboratories in recent years.

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