The Navodaya Vidyalaya System is a unique experiment 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 with quality education comparable to the best in a residential school system. Such children are found in all sections of society, and in all areas including the most backward. But, so far, good quality education has been available only to well-to-do sections of society, and the poor have been left out. It was felt that children with special talent or aptitude should be provided opportunities to proceed at a faster pace, by making good quality education available to them, irrespective of their capacity to pay for it. These talented children otherwise would have been deprived of quality modern education traditionally available only in the urban areas.
Such education would enable students from rural areas to compete with their urban counterparts on an equal footing. The National Policy on Education-1986 envisaged the setting up of residential schools, to be called Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas that would bring out the best of rural talent.