PerantiSiswa: Beneficiary of the free tablet reduced by 33%, more budget for better tablets?

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Yesterday, Communications and Multimedia Minister Annuar Musa revealed more details about the PerantiSiswa program which provides free tablets to students at B40 University. The minister also tweeted that the scheme will be open for applications from April and will benefit 400,000 B40 students studying at public and private higher education institutions, polytechnics and community colleges. Interestingly, this is a 33% reduction from the initial announcement made by Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul when tabling the 2022 budget which was intended to benefit 600,000 B40 students.

To recap, the government has allocated RM450 million to provide free tablets to 600,000 B40 students under the recent budget. If you do the math, it costs RM750 per device. At yesterday’s press conference, Annuar Musa said the PerantiSiswa tablets will be of high quality and meet the minimum specs of at least 10.1 inches, 4GB of RAM and come with a keyboard and stylus included .

It is unclear whether the government is increasing its overall budget for PerantiSiswa. Assuming that there remains RM450 million, that comes to RM1,125 per device, which would allow for the purchase of better-specified tablets. If the government wants to include a keyboard and stylus while providing a decent tablet for learning, we reckon they could increase the overall budget.

The revision should come as no surprise as the government has done the same with the eBelia program announced in the 2021 budget. Initially, a total of RM75 million was allocated to provide e-wallet credit of RM50 to 1.5 million youths, and it was eventually increased to RM300 million to provide RM150 eWallet credit to 2 million young people.

According to Annuar Musa, there will be two phases of pill distribution, one in April and another in June. The MCMC revealed last year that the free tablet program will be offered through six telecommunications carriers, including Celcom, Digi, Maxis, U Mobile, Yes and TM. This indicates that the tablets could be linked to a student data plan contract which could be similar to Pakej Data Khas Belia. The plan offers 20GB of data for RM15/month for students born between 1997 and 2009.

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