The Punjab Cabinet Monday decided to give smartphones to 2.15 lakh class 12 students from the current academic session. The phones, a government statement said, will facilitate seamless e-learning in government schools under the ‘Punjab Smart Connect Scheme’.
The state government has allotted a budget of Rs 100 crore to the school education department for the scheme for the financial year 2021-22. As many as 1,75,443 regular students (boys and girls) studying in class 12 of government schools have already been given mobile phones last year.
The statement said that the smartphones were being given to those promoted to class 12 this year after the government realised the benefit of imparting online education remotely to the students through the distributed smartphones, particularly in the adverse pandemic situation last year. The scheme has been extended to the students to be admitted in class 12 of the academic year 2021-22.
The procurement shall be carried out through Punjab Infotech, under the Industries & Commerce Department. The mobile phones to be distributed under the scheme will have various smart features such as touch screen, camera and pre-loaded government applications such as e-Sewa App with e-content related to class 12 as approved by the School Education department.
Free smartphones was a pre-poll promise of the Congress party before the 2017 elections in the state. It was originally announced that all youths, who had filled the forms for availing the benefit, would be getting the phone. But after taking over, Punjab decided to extend the scheme only to school students.