A day after the Orissa High Court paved the way for the conduct of urban body polls, a hurried State Government on Wednesday unveiled the free laptop scheme, almost a week ahead of its scheduled launch on August 15, anticipating the model code of conduct.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik launched the distribution of laptops to meritorious students of Plus-Two colleges under Biju Yuva Sashaktikaran Yojana at Jaydev Bhavan here.
The State Government has identified 15,235 meritorious students from across the State who passed Plus-Two examinations this year as the beneficiaries of the new scheme.
Naveen said the future belongs to an ‘age of information,’ but the State was still lacking behind in this regard when it comes to uniform access to communication technology.
“Our younger generation will be instrumental in bringing progressive change in the State, for which access to technology is crucial. It is important for the students to develop skills and think like leaders,” Naveen said. He said the State Government has taken steps to bridge the digital gap amongst people.
The distribution of laptops is expected to be completed within three months. Of the total students identified, 3,057 and 2,031 students belong to Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe categories, respectively. About 7,074 laptops will be distributed to students of Science stream, 6,126 to Arts and 2,035 to Commerce streams. The free laptops will be distributed in a phased manner across the State.
Information Technology (IT) and Employment and Technical Education and Training (ETET) Minister Pratap Keshari Deb said the level of competition amongst the students will increase with the provisioning of free laptops. He said this was the first developmental step towards empowerment of the youth, with many more to come in future.
The State Government had formulated a youth policy recently, aimed at recognising and honing the skills of the new generation.
Echoing similar views, Higher Education Minister Badri Narayan Patra said the provisioning of free laptops to the meritorious students will create a healthy competition amongst the Plus-Two students every year. “From next year, the free laptops will act as a catalyst for the students to perform well in their examinations,” Patra said.