Yesterday, Communications and Multimedia Minister Annuar Musa revealed more details for the PerantiSiswa programme which provides free tablets to B40 university students. The Minister also tweeted that the programme will be open for applications starting in April and it will benefit 400,000 B40 students studying in public and private institutions of higher learning, polytechnic schools, and community colleges. Interestingly, that’s a 33% reduction from the initial announcement made by Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul during the tabling of Budget 2022 which aimed at benefiting 600,000 B40 students.
Saya umumkan hari ini di Parlimen bahawa permohonan Pakej Peranti Siswa #KeluargaMalaysia akan dibuka April ini dan ia bakal memanfaatkan 400,000 anak muda di IPTA, IPTS, politeknik dan kolej komuniti terutamanya golongan B40. pic.twitter.com/Pi0r2DX8qm— Annuar Musa (@AnnuarMusa) March 17, 2022
To recap, the government allocated RM450 million to provide free tablets to 600,000 B40 students under the recent budget. If you do the math, that costs RM750 per device. During yesterday’s press conference, Annuar Musa said the PerantiSiswa tablets will be of high-quality fulfilling minimum specs of at least 10.1″ display, 4GB of RAM and would come with a keyboard and stylus included.
It isn’t clear if the government is increasing its overall budget for PerantiSiswa. Assuming it remains at RM450 million, this calculates to RM1,125 per device, which would allow the procurement of better-spec’ed tablets. If the government wants to include a keyboard and a stylus while providing a decent tablet for learning, we reckon that they might increase the overall budget.
The revision shouldn’t come as a surprise as the government has done the same with the eBelia programme that was announced in Budget 2021. Initially, a total of RM75 million was allocated to provide RM50 eWallet credit to 1.5 million youths, and it was eventually increased to RM300 million in order to provide RM150 eWallet credit to 2 million youths.
According to Annuar Musa, there will be two phases of distribution of tablets, one in April and another in June. The MCMC has revealed last year that the free tablet programme will be offered via six telcos which include Celcom, Digi, Maxis, U Mobile, Yes and TM. This indicates that the tablets might be tied to a student data plan contract that could be similar to Pakej Data Khas Belia. The plan offers 20GB data for RM15/month for students born between 1997 to 2009.
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