The state government on Tuesday announced that Rs 10,000 would be transferred to the bank accounts of 9.5 lakh Class 12 students in government schools, and madrasas instead of giving them tablets. The students can use the money to buy tablets or smartphones for “seamless online education”, the government added.
“We floated tenders but no one could ensure to supply the huge volume of tabs. Since the central government has imposed restrictions on the products made in China, we have to depend on other brands. So, we have decided to transfer the money directly to the account of the students within three weeks,” Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said at a press conference in state secretariat Nabanna.
Sources in the secretariat said the school education department held talks with many tab manufacturers, but they proved futile. “All of them said they could supply us a maximum of 15,000 to 20,000 tabs per week. But it would be a time-consuming practice. So the government decided to transfer the money directly to the account of the students,” said a school education department official.
The department also came to know that because of increasing demand for smartphones manufacturers had recently scaled down the production of tabs. Keeping that in mind, the government decided to allow students to buy smartphones and phablets too. “We will have definite rules and regulations to ensure that students use the amount for tablets and smartphones only. Only the policy decision was taken in today’s Cabinet meeting,” said a senior state administration official.
The government had initially decided to provide students with tabs to help them overcome the hurdles of attending online classes during the pandemic. Most students in rural Bengal either have one handset in their family or the gadget is not compatible with the requirements of attending online classes.
Meanwhile, ministers Rajib Banerjee and Chandranath Sinha did not attend Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting. Banerjee recently criticised the party, following which he has met the party leadership twice in recent days. Both the government and the ministers declined to comment about their absence.
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