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.
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 povide 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.
Admission in Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas is primarily for children from the rural areas, with provision of at least 75% seats for rural children. Navodaya Vidyalayas are affiliated to CBSE and offer free education to talented children from ClassVI to XII. Entry to Navodaya Vidyalaya is made in ClassVI with lateral entry in Classes IX & XI. Navodaya Vidyalayas are located in rural areas across the country. The State Govt. has to offer cost free land for permanent construction and rent free temporary buildings for the setting up of a Navodaya Vidyalaya.