Free laptops for poor students

Free laptops for poor students

Students browse laptop models on offer at a fair. (File photo)
Students browse laptop models on offer at a fair. (File photo)

The Digital Economy and Society (DES) Ministry plans to distribute 13 million free laptops to poor students between 2023 and 2027 under its action plan for the Smart Thailand scheme.

Smart Thailand is intended to be a further development of the country's digital transformation roadmap, in line with the Thailand 4.0 mission.

The distribution of the laptops will be made in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, and financially supported by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission's (NBTC) fund in a phase-by-phase process. Around 1 million units are expected to be handed over during the first phase.

DES Minister Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn said the Smart Thailand scheme was another milestone, following the installation of infrastructure to develop the existing digital ecosystem with the adoption of sector-by-sector innovations.

Manpower, especially in terms of digital skills among state officials, is a critical challenge of the mission as it could help ensure a smooth transformation, he said.

One important move under the action plan was to provide free laptops, which is set to start next year.

A total of 13 million laptops are set to be distributed to poor students nationwide, with the first phase starting next year with 1 million units, Mr Chaiwut said.

The NBTC's telecom and broadcasting fund will financially support the project, he said. A decision on who exactly will receive the computers is yet to be worked out.

Additionally, the state is preparing to issue a regulation aimed at combating the use of mule bank accounts owned by those hired by scammers to commit illegal transactions via mobile banking.

The royal decree that defines characteristics of the activities involving mule accounts would be submitted to the cabinet for consideration soon, Mr Chaiwut said.

Under the decree, those opening mobile accounts for others could face legal actions even though these accounts have yet to be used to commit crimes, he said.

"There is a need to strictly govern the existing problem of fraud on mobile platforms," Mr Chaiwut said.

According to Mr Chaiwut, digital transformation from 2023 will be pushed forward following the implementation of cybersecurity-related laws and other regulations, such as the Personal Data Protection Act and the digital identity law.

Thailand is regarded as a country that has the best ICT infrastructure at a global level, Mr Chaiwut said.

The government is pushing for infrastructure development as a foundation of Thailand's development towards a digital economy, especially wireless broadband that is vital to online activities.

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