Chandigarh: The Education Department of Punjab government will explore the option of sourcing low-cost tablet 'Aakash' for distributing among class XI and XII students, which was promised by ruling party SAD in its poll manifesto. "We will certainly explore (sourcing) 'Aakash' tablet for giving them to students as announced in the state budget. Moreover, Aakash tablet is also being propagated by the Centre," a senior official of School Education Department said.
What prompted the state authorities to look at 'Aakash' tablet as an option is the recent announcement of Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal's remarks that the price of Aakash would come down from $49 to $35 with setting up of tablet
The slash in Aakash tablet rates will bring down the proposed expenditure to be incurred by the state government on buying tablets, official sources said. State government officials have already carried out a market survey, in which they found that tablets are available at a price between Rs 5,000 and Rs 7,000 per unit.
However, Aakash tablet cost the Centre at Rs 2,263 and after 50 per cent subsidy for students, it would finally cost Rs 1,130 per unit. The tendering process for sourcing cheaper tablet has, though, still not been carried out by Punjab, the official said.
"We expect the process for giving tablets to students will be completed by January next year," he added. Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) in its poll manifesto had initially promised to give a free laptop with data card for Class XI and Class XII students in the state. However, later the Punjab government opted for giving free tablets to 3 lakh students.
In last Punjab budget, state Finance Minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa had announced that state government would first give tablets to 1.5 lakh class XII students at a cost of Rs 110 crore in this year while students of class XI would be given next year.