Essay Topic: Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas: Taking education to rural homes


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    With good private schools largely concentrated in urban areas, the National Policy on Education, 1986, envisaged a system of residential schools in rural areas. The Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas (JNV) mandate was simple: provide quality education to those who lived in rural areas and otherwise had no access to it. The schools were to be residential so that all aspects of the child’s life could be catered to, which in many cases was not possible at home for students from poor backgrounds.

    In the past three decades, JNVs have emerged as flagbearers of quality in an otherwise depressing rural education landscape. There are a total of 598 JNVs in the country today, 62 more are in the pipeline (as per policy, there has to be at least one JNV in each district in the country). The schools acknowledge an important aspect of India-that of diversity-and have a good programme for ensuring integration. This involves an inter-regional exchange of students between Hindi-speaking and non- Hindi-speaking districts for one year in Class IX. Another objective: getting students from the villages to compete in the civil services exam. A sign of the JNVs’ success: Dhar collector Shriman Shukla (IAS), income tax deputy commissioner Sunil Sharma (IRS) and Ajay Dwivedi (IAS) all are alumni of JNVs in Madhya Pradesh.

    Navodaya Vidyalayas are run by the Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti (NVS), an autonomous organisation under the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Department of School Education and Literacy, Govt. of India. The Chairman of the Samiti is the Minister of Human Resource Development.

    The Samiti functions through the Executive Committee under the Chairmanship of the Minister of HRD. The Executive Committee is responsible for the management of all affairs including allocation of funds to the Samiti and has the authority to exercise all powers of Samiti. It is assisted by two sub-committees, the Finance Committee and Academic Advisory Committee. The executive head of the administrative pyramid is the Commissioner who executes the policies laid down by the Samiti’s Executive Committee. He/she is assisted at the Headquarters level by Joint Commissioners, Deputy Commissioners and Assistant Commissioners. The Samiti has established eight regional offices for the administration and monitoring of Navodaya Vidyalayas under their jurisdiction. These offices are headed by a deputy commissioner and assistant commissioners.

    For each JNV, there is a Vidyalaya Advisory Committee for assistance on matters of academics, infrastructure and other general activities and a Vidyalaya Management Committee for budget preparation, selection of ad-hoc teachers and proper functioning of the school. Normally the district collector of the concerned district is the ex-officio chairman of school level committees with local educationists, public representatives and officers from the district as members. Some schools also have a Vidhyalaya Coordination Committee for looking after performance of academics. At present, there are 598 functional residential schools, which are administrated, according to the following table, by eight regional offices located at Bhopal, Chandigarh, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Lucknow, Patna, Pune and Shillong with jurisdiction over different states and UTs.

    To facilitate migration every JNV teaches three languages in class VI to Class IX. These languages are grouped into A Level, B-I Level and B-II Level. The pattern followed in different categories of states is as shown in the table below. However, CBSE mandates for children to study two languages only. Therefore, students of each category of states appear for A Level and B-I level languages at CBSE examinations.

    Navodaya Vidyalayas in collaboration with Samsung India set up smart classes in 373 JNVs from 2013 to 2016. A smart class is typically equipped with an interactive Smartboard, laptops/tablets, Wi-Fi connectivity and power backup. A smart class supplements regular lessons in mathematics, science social science, English, and Hindi to explain concepts in an engaging and interactive manner. Teachers are trained to use the equipment effectively.
    The social milieu of JNVs is defined by the mingling of different sections of society from various regions of India since these schools follow the affirmative action policy and have a policy for migration from different linguistic regions. Teachers, chosen from across the country, live in the same campus and interact with students on 24X7 basis leading to a familial feeling. The life of a Navodiyan is enriched by extracurricular activities like sports, cultural activities and activities of youth organizations.

    One of the important features of the JNV scheme is the Migration Programme wherein two linked JNVs of different linguistic categories exchange students between them. The aim of the exchange program is to “promote national integration and enrich social content”. According to the scheme, a selected 30% of Class IX students are exchanged between two linked JNVs of different linguistic categories (generally between Hindi-speaking and non-Hindi-speaking states) for one year. During the migration period the three languages being taught to migrated students remain the same as in their parent JNV, but social and cultural exchanges are facilitated by their language learning in Class VI to IX. Initially migration was envisaged for students from Class IX to Class XII; it was reduced to two years (Class IX and Class X) in 1991-92. Finally in 1996-97 it was confined to only Class IX students.

    JNVs give great emphasis to sports. The daily schedule allots at least two hours a day toward sports and other play activities. Each JNV provides facilities for handball, football, volleyball, basketball, kho-kho, badminton, kabaddi, hockey, and cricket. The campuses also provide a gymnasium and multi-purpose halls for indoor games like table tennis and chess. Inter-school competitions are held yearly at the cluster, regional, national, and SGFI (School Games Federation of India) level.

    Cultural activities

    Cultural activities are part of the JNV framework. Every school is provided with a music room and arts room. Inter-school competitions for dance, drama, debates, literature, etc. are yearly held at the cluster, regional and national level.