Here’s some good news for school and college students. The government is planning to buy five million low-cost tablets that it will distribute to students of government-run schools and colleges across the country.
The human resource development ministry has prepared the proposal, which is expected to be approved by the Union cabinet soon.
“We expect the tendering process to be completed by March. All the tablets will have to be supplied by the end of 2013,” said an official of the communications & IT ministry, which will formulate the tender conditions, approve the specs and test the devices.
The exact specs will be finalised by the end of the month.
The UPA hopes to woo young voters and their families with this scheme before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Called “low cost access device”, these tablets will come preloaded with educational content and related apps that are being developed by the IITs. Students will be free to load other apps of their choice once they get the devices.
In order to ensure that the tablets are delivered within the prescribed time period, the government will select multiple vendors to execute this order. It has earmarked about Rs. 700 crore for the project. This implies that each tablet will cost Rs. 1,400. The exact price, however, will be subject to negotiation with the vendors.
“The total budget for procuring devices may vary depending on the price quoted by the companies,” said the official.
In 2011, the government floated a tender for supply of 1,00,000 Aakash tablets. Canada-based DataWind won the bids by quoting a price of Rs. 2,263. But the tablets did not meet the required specifications.
The upgraded Aakash 2 tablets will also be eligible to bid for this contract.