New Delhi: Amid the ongoing COVID pandemic when online classes have replaced physical education, the Punjab government has decided to distribute smartphones to class 12 students studying in government schools. The distribution of 1,73,823 smartphones will be completed by November 2020 to facilitate e-learning during the pandemic, the Punjab Cabinet said on Thursday. The distribution of first batch of 50,000 smartphones, which have already been received by the state government, will begin shortly. Also Read - Congress, Opposition Parties Hold Protest Against Farm Bills; to Move Supreme Court | Top Developments

They will be equipped with pre-loaded government applications like ”e-Sewa App” with e-content related to Class XI and Class XII, as approved by the Department of School Education. Also Read - 'Distressed' Over Centre's Passage of Farm Bills, Punjab CM Amarinder Singh to Hold Sit-in Today

The second batch will be procured soon, and the entire distribution process will be completed by November, an official spokesperson said after the meeting of the Punjab Cabinet. Also Read - President Signs Farm Bills Into Laws: Maha Refuses to Implement Policies, SAD Chalks Out Next Course of Action | Top Points

The Punjab Cabinet noted that four months of the ongoing academic year 2020-21 had already elapsed without regular on-campus classes which posed a disadvantage to the students, especially those studying in Class 12.

Though Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh had earlier said that only the girl students would receive the smartphones in the first batch, on Wednesday he said that both boys and girls of Class 12 government schools, who do not have smartphones to access the online classes will be provided the same.

With this, the state government will implement the scheme ”The Punjab smart Connect scheme”, which it had announced in its budget for the Financial Year 2018-19. The scheme was aimed at providing digital access to youth, as well as information regarding education, career opportunities, access to skill development and employment opportunities, in addition to basic citizen-centric services through government applications, etc.

(With agency inputs)