New Delhi, Dec 3: The Government is looking to bring about a qualitative as well as quantitative improvement in the educational sector during the Eleventh Five Year Plan, the Rajya Sabha was informed today.
In a reply during Question Hour, Minister of State for Human Resource Development D Purandeswari said, though the proposed expenditure on the educational sector during the 11th five year plan was not available as it was yet to be finalised, the Government would be looking for a qualitative as well as quantitative improvement in allocation on educational sector during the plan.
''We are looking at a rapid upgradation of primary schools to secondary schools, setting up 6000 quality model schools at the block level, imrpoving laboratory facilities in schools, setting up special schools for girls and bringing 30 million children under the ambit of the mid day meal scheme,'' the Minister said in reply to suplementaries in the House.
In the higher education, the Government was looking at increasing the capacities of the IITs and the IIMs among other measures, she said.
Ms Purandeswari said, the focus of the eleventh plan would be on universalisation of education. She informed that a total central plan allocation of Rs 28,671 crore had been made for education for the year 2007-2008, of which the expenditure between April 2007 to September, 2007 was Rs 8,258 crore.
Replying to another question, Minister for Power, Sushil Kumar Shinde said the Government had formulated a scheme for appointment of franchisees in rural areas to undertake distribution of power and collection of bill in rural areas.
He said 14 states had reported appointment of franchisees.
''It has been seen that the apointment of franchisees in these areas has led to numerous benefits to the power sector like imrpovement in customer services, enhancement in revenue collection and reduction in A T&T losses,'' the Minister said.
Meanwhile, in reply to another question, Minister for Social Justice and Emowerment Meira Kumar said, the various old age homes set up under the aegis of the ministry across the country were functioning well. Stating that the Government was concerned about the welfare and well being of senior citizens in the country, the minister said the Planning Commission had proposed an increase in expenditure for welfare of senior citizens in the eleventh plan to Rs 265 crore, from Rs 77.34 crore in the tenth Plan.
''With the proposed increase in the budget, the consequential benefits will flow to senior citizens in the country,'' she said.
In reply to a supplementary, the minister said the Centre had constituted a Bill that provides for welfare of the elderly by their children, on the lines of a similar Bill in Maharashtra.
The Bill has been passed by the Lower House and had been referred to the Standing committee.
She said in order to ensure that the benefits of the old age homes reach the sub urban and rural areas of the country where currently there are no old age homes, the ministry had formulated a policy whereby the NGOs that run old age homes would get grant from the Government only if they set up old age homes in rural and sub urban areas.
''Presently, it is seen that many districts in the country have no old age homes while some others have many old age homes.
Henceforth, our endeavour would be to ensure an even spread out of these old age homes across the country,'' the minister said.
Replying to another question, Minister of State for New and Renewable Energy Vilas Muttemwar said, the Government was committed to facilitate and promote all efforts to establish dedicated Special Economic Zones for production of equipment involved in the renewable energy generation sector by domestic as well as foreign investors.
He said Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh have evinced interest to facilitate setting up of SEZs for the renerwable energy sector.