The National Policy on Education-1986 envisaged setting up of residential schools, to be called Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas, that would bring out the best of rural talent.
It was felt that children with special talent or aptitude should be provided opportunities to progress at a faster pace by making good quality education available to them irrespective of their capacity to pay for it. Such education would enable students from rural areas to compete with their urban counterparts on an equal footing; seamlessly assimilating and intefrating them into the mainstream of the society.
The Navodaya Vidyalaya System which began as a unique experiment, is today unparalleled in the annals of school education in India and elsewhere. Its significance lies in the selection of talented rural children as the target group and the attempt to provide them quality education comparable to the best in a residential school system.
Navodaya Vidyalayas draw their students strength from talented children, selected on the basis of a merit test, called the Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya Selection Test, designed, developed and conducted initially by NCERT and now by CBSE. The test is held annually on an All India basis and at block and district levels. The test is objective, class neutral and is so designed as to ensure that rural children are not at a disadvantage while attempting it.
Admission in Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas is primarily for children from the rural areas, with provision of at least 75% seats for rural children. Seats are reserved for children from SC, ST and OBC communities in proportion to their population in the district but not less than the national average. 1/3 of the seats are filled by girl students. 3% of the seats are for disabled children.
Navodaya Vidyalayas are affiliated to CBSE and provide free residential quality education to talented children from Class-VI to XII. Entry into Navodaya Vidyalayas is made in Class-VI with lateral entry in Classes- IX & XI. Each Navodaya Vidyalaya is a co-educational residential institution providing free boarding and lodging, free school uniforms, text books, stationery and to and fro rail / bus fare to students. However, a nominal fee @ Rs.600/- per month is charged from the students of Classes-IX to XII as Vidyalaya Vikas Nidhi except from the students of following exempted category.
In respect of wards of Government employees other than exempted category, VVN is charged either @ Rs.1500/- per month or actual Children Education Allowance received by the parent per month whichever is less.
The Scheme of Navodaya Vidyalayas provides for implementation of the Three Language Formula. The third language taught in Hindi speaking districts is linked to the migration of students. All Navodaya Vidyalayas follow the Three Language Formula i.e. Regional language, English and Hindi.
The medium of instruction will be mother-tongue/regional language upto VII or VIII Class. Thereafter the common medium would be Hindi/English in all Navodaya Vidyalayas.
Navodaya Vidyalayas aim at inculcating values of national integration through migration scheme. Migration is an inter-regional exchange of students between Hindi and Non-Hindi speaking districts, which takes place for one academic year in Class-IX. Efforts are made to promote better understanding of the unity in diversity and to develop and promote understanding of the rich cultural heritage through various activities.
Navodaya Vidyalayas are located in rural areas across the country. For the setting up of a Navodaya Vidyalaya, the State Govt. has to provide cost free land for construction of school building at permanent site and rent free temporary building.