The origin of Navodaya Vidyalaya is based on three ideas viz.‘excellence' , ‘equality of educational opportunities' and social justice. Almost four decades ago , the education commission in its report had a complete chapter on “ towards equalization of educational opportunity ”.The decision of starting a unique pace setting school made as a part of the national Policy on Education in 1986.It reads as “5.14 : It is universally accepted 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 ”.

“5.15: Pace setting schools intended to serve this purpose will be established in    various parts of the country on a given pattern , but with full scope for innovation and experimentation.Their broad aims will be to serve the objective of excellence , coupled with equity and social justice ( with reservation for SCs and STs ), to promote national integration by providing opportunities to the talented children largely rural, from different parts of the country to live and learn together, to develop their full potential, and, most importantly, to become catalysts of a nation wide programme of school improvement. The schools will be residential and free of charge”.

On the basis of this recommendation, a task force was set up to work out the details iro setting up and working of Navodaya Vidyalayas. The task force worked out a two art programme for education of bright children. Part one was for potentially high achievers particularly in the areas that are substantially not covered by the present system; Part second was a programme for gifted students who could be expected to make original contribution in their subject areas if properly nurtured.

The task was proposed that under the scheme of Navodaya Vidyalayas, one Navodaya Vidyalaya be set up in each District during the 7th Five year plan period. The Navodaya Vidyalayas were to have 75% reservation for children from Rural areas with reservation for SC & ST according to their actual population in the District but in no case less that 15% and 7 ½ % respectively. As for as possible Girls were to constitute 1/3 rd of student population in every Navodaya Vidyalaya. It was also proposed that the Navodaya Vidyalayas were to be affiliated to Central Board of Secondary Education.

The model schools later converted into Navodaya Vidyalayas were setup at Amaravati ( Maharashtra ) and Jhajhar (Hariyana) in 1985-86. the Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti was registered on 20th February, 1986. The first meeting of Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti was held on 28 Nov 1986.

In 1991, Navodaya Vidyalayas were designated as Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya as a mark of respect for Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, India’s first illustrious Prime Minister.
According to the Navodaya Vidyalaya scheme one Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya is to be set up in district in a phased manner.At present there are 593 Vidyalayas are sanctioned in 27 states and 7 Union Territories, out of which 577 are functioning.