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Thursday, 15 October 2020

Punjab Free Smartphone Distribution (Captain Smart Connect) Scheme 2020 for Class 12th Students of Government Schools

Punjab government has approved Captain Smart Connect Scheme on 5 August 2020. In this Free Smartphone Distribution Scheme (पंजाब मुफ्त स्मार्टफोन योजना), the state govt. will provide 1.78 lakh smartphones to class 12th students of state government schools by November. In the first phase of Mobile Phones to the Youth Scheme, govt. will distribute 50,000 mobile phones to students of govt. schools studying in class 12th. Earlier govt. had decided to provide smartphones to girl students of class 11th and 12th, but now smartphones would be given to both boys and girls of class 12th.
   
CMO Punjab has already approved the modalities for distribution of free mobile phones and procurement of phones has already been completed. The 50,000 smartphones have already been received by the Punjab government and distribution of mobile phones will begin shortly. The manufacturing firm has also ruled out any Chinese connection of smartphones.
The smartphones would be equipped with various smart features such as touch screen, camera and pre-loaded government applications. It includes various features such as e-Sewa App along with e-content related to class 11th and 12th as approved by department of school education in Punjab.

Punjab Captain Smart Connect Scheme 2020 - Free Smartphone Distribution to the Youths 

In order to attract the youths of the Punjab, CM Amarinder Singh had announced Free Smartphone Distribution Scheme in 2016. Under this scheme, CM made an announcement to provide 50 lakh smartphones with 1 year of free data and calling to the youth in the state. However, this announcement was still unfilled, so govt. has approved Punjab Captain Smart Connect Scheme 2020 or its other name is Mobile Phones to the Youth Scheme 2020. In this scheme, youths will be given around 1.78 lakh smartphones by November. In the 1st phase, around 50,000 boys / girls students of govt. schools will be given mobile phones.

The main objective is empowerment of youths by connecting them through digital mode to facilitate online learning on priority basis during COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. This Punjab Smartphone Distribution Scheme 2020 was a pre poll promise of CM Amarinder Singh led government which is going to be fulfilled after 4 years of coming in power.

How to Apply for Punjab Free Smartphone Distribution Scheme 1st Phase 

On 5 August 2020, Punjab cabinet committee led by CM Captain Amarinder Singh  has decided to start 1st phase of Free Smartphone Distribution Scheme. In 1st phase, around 50,000 smartphones would be given to students of govt. schools which are studying in class 12th. All the boys and girls students would be required to submit a self certification form. This Punjab Smart Connect Scheme online application form would ensure that youth beneficiaries of Mobile Phones to the Youth Scheme are already not in a possession of smartphone and they really requires it.

Punjab Mobile Phones to the Youth Scheme Features 

Here are the important features and highlights of the Mobile Phones to the Youth Scheme.  
  • Name of the scheme - Smart Connect Scheme or Mobile Phones to the Youth Scheme
  • Objective - To provide smartphones to youth to digitally empower them & facilitate online learning amid COVID-19 pandemic outbreak
  • Number of Smartphones - 1.78 lakh
  • Major Beneficiaries - Youths
  • Announced by - Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh
  • Approved by - Cabinet Committee
  • State - Punjab
  • No. of Smartphones to be Distributed in Phase 1 - 50,000
  • Approval Date for Phase 1 - 5 August 2020
  • 1st Phase Beneficiaries - Boys / Girls students of govt. schools studying in class 12th
This new Free Smartphone Distribution Scheme in Punjab will give a further boost to the digital empowerment agenda of the state government.

About Punjab Captain Smart Connect Scheme 2020 Initiative

The new Captain Smart Connect Scheme is a govt. initiative to provide access to several digital platforms to youth. The Punjab govt. will enable youth in getting information from websites, applications to enable them to take informed career decisions. Students would be able to get information about education and career opportunities and access basic citizen services. Punjab govt. Free Smartphone Distribution Scheme was a pre-poll promise of the congress party. The state govt. had set aside funds for Mobile Phones to the Youth Scheme in Punjab Budget 2017-18, 2018-19 and in 2019-20.

Type of Mobile Phones to be Distributed in Punjab Free Smartphone Scheme

Under the Punjab Mobile Phones to the Youth scheme, govt. will provide basic smartphones to both boys and girl students in 12th standards. Those handsets which are to be distributed will come up with various features which includes:-
  1. Touchscreen Interface
  2. Camera Unit
  3. Internet Connectivity
  4. Social Media Apps
  5. Pre-loaded government applications
  6. e-Sewa App
  7. e-content of class 11th and 12th
Smartphones under the Punjab Free Smartphone Scheme will also provide some other basic functionalities.

Implementation of Punjab Captain Smart Connect Scheme

As per the official sources, Punjab govt. had incorporated an open transparent biding process. Vendors who will be responsible to provide mobile devices to students are chosen through a transparent process. Punjab Information Technology Corporation Ltd. had earlier floated tenders for Free Smartphone Distribution Scheme. The state govt. has already procured 50,000 handsets to be distributed in the 1st phase of Punjab Captain Smart Connect Scheme. In the next few days, vendor will deliver first set of handsets under Mobile Phones to the Youth Scheme.

The second batch of mobile phones to be distributed among govt. school students of class 11th and 12th will be procured soon. The entire distribution process of smartphones under Mobile Phones to the Youth Scheme will be completed by the November 2020. Punjab Cabinet has approved the modalities for distribution of smartphones.

Major Beneficiaries of Free Mobile Phone Distribution Scheme in Punjab

Official announcement has been made by the Punjab govt. on beneficiaries of Free Mobile Phone Distribution Scheme. In the initial first phase, govt. will distribute 50,000 smartphones to boys and girls students of government schools who are currently studying in class 12th. Priority will be given to those students who already do not own a mobile phone to enable them to do online learning. After the successful implementation of first phase of Mobile Phones to Youth Scheme, the scheme will be extended to other students as well. It is proposed to distribute 1.78 lakh smartphones to students by November 2020.

Need for Punjab Free Smartphone Scheme for Govt. School Students

Punjab cabinet committee has noted that 4 months of academic year 2020-21 has been elapsed already without any regular on-campus classes. During this period, private schools were undertaking online classes but govt. schools students faced a competitive disadvantage. The most affected students from COVID-19 lockdown are those students who are studying in class 12th.

Initially, Punjab govt. announced that first batch of the smartphones would be given to girls. However, CM said that both boys and girls of class 12th government schools who do not have smartphones to access online classes will be provided the same. It is necessary to ensure that any student does not suffer in the times of the Coronavirus pandemic due to lack of access to education.

Background of Free Smartphone Distribution Scheme

Punjab govt. had made an announcement for the Captain Smart Connect Scheme implementation before assembly elections. In the budget 2017-18, govt. had allocated money for distribution of free smartphones under Mobile Phones to the Youth Scheme. 

In a meeting held in September 2019, Punjab cabinet had decided to distribute mobile phones to about 1.6 lakh girl students. Priority was on those girls not owning a smartphone and studying in classes 11 and 12 in the government schools during the fiscal 2019-20. The contract was signed with a company called Lava International Ltd. after an open competitive bidding process. However, during the process of procurement and delivery of smartphones, the country was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, the delivery and distribution of the smartphones could not take place in the academic year 2019-20.

Now the state govt. will start implementing 1st phase of Free Smartphone Scheme in Punjab. The new Free Smartphone Distribution Scheme aims to provide digital access to youths. Moreover, it contains information regarding education, career opportunities, access to skill development and employment opportunities, in addition to basic citizen-centric services through government applications.

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