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Frontage of the Godrej Udayachal School with children playing in the garden.
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The Pragati Kendra works hand in hand with Upchargraha towards creative as well as preventive aspects of health. Employees are covered under the Company’s medical benefits scheme. Health care includes a variety of facilities such as preventive measures, a dental clinic, physiotherapy, a pathology laboratory, a psychiatric clinic, yoga classes and a gymnasium. The immunization programme in Godrej is the best in Maharashtra, perhaps in the whole of India.

Light for workers?children

Notable among several Godrej achievements, whose consequences are far-reaching, was the provision of education for workers?children. On his routine visits to the Company, Pirojsha was disturbed by the plight of these children who, having nothing else to do, were just whiling away their time in the streets. His youngest son Naval suggested starting a school for them and Naval’s wife Soonuben broached the idea with the noted educationist, the late Mrs. Cooverbai Vakil, known as Auntie, who happened to be a family friend. A product of Shantiniketan, Cooverbai used to run a school in Pune which Indira Gandhi attended. She brought Shantiniketan’s inherent love for nature and the fine arts to the proposed school, and in Naval Godrej she found a staunch supporter of her beliefs and ideals in providing the very best to the children.

Holistic approach

Cooverbai Vakil also happened to be Soonuben’s former teacher and great friend. "Without Mrs. Cooverbai’s help, guidance and encouragement," said the late Soonuben, "it would have taken us much longer to achieve what we did. The foundation that was laid by her was strong enough to withstand any wrong influences from outside. And working holistically with the whole family ?students, home and workplace ?the concepts and thinking of the employees were changed towards a more modern outlook, whereas in the old days their highest ambition was for their children to pass Standard VII!"

Associated with her in this venture was another well-known educationist, Jyotsnaben Mehta, who brought her long experience to bear on the Udayachal project. Started as a Bal Mandir in a grain store in the Godrej welfare centre with a handful of children, it grew into a magnificent edifice in black stone housing Pre-Primary, Primary and High School sections, in an idyllic setting of roads lined with gulmohurs, copper pods and lush green lawns. But the process required a lot of effort. Soonuben along with Aloo Movdawalla, Auntie and Jyotsnaben Mehta, worked tirelessly going to employees?homes, discussing the merits of education and almost begging them to let their children attend school! Initially, and somewhat reluctantly, only their sons were sent to school, daughters traditionally meant for domestic chores were kept at home. It took years of constant reinforcing, together with cultural and educational programmes with eminent personalities addressing the families at the Pragati Kendra, for the seeds of a holistic educational system to be sown.

Today, that dedication and effort have paid off, and the School has slowly expanded from one room to a full-fledged High School where the late Jaiben Godrej taught English and Mathematics for many years, inculcating a love for poetry and the English language. More importantly, its innovative and almost revolutionary methods of teaching children have made it a model school, a trailblazer in the field of education. Not only bricks and mortar went into the school’s construction, but also much concern and much love.

Outdoor play keeps them fit. Udayachal Pre-Primary School children climb in and out
of tunnels in the garden. The Pre-Primary School building is in the background.
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Udayachal signifies the Eastern mountain from where the sun, the moon and myriad stars rise into the vast expanse of the sky. The Eastern mountain truly symbolises the schools?ideal: to help students from even the humblest of origins to rise to the zenith of a fulfilled life. Udayachal is a mini India where children of different communities, following different religions and speaking different languages, work together to build a harmonious WHOLE.

Education being the right of every child, the School admits workers? children without any tests or interviews, the only criterion being that the child should be 3 years old at the time of admission. Recently, the school opened its doors to students from non-Godrej employee families too.

The School’s motto is "Tamaso-ma JyotirGamaya", which means "from darkness to light". Education in the School focuses on the total personality development of the child, which is enhanced through joyful learning, taking into account the physical, socio-emotional, aesthetic, spiritual as well as mental attributes, rather than just the academic progress.

Udayachal believes in an integrated curriculum resulting in each school day flowing smoothly, providing opportunities for children to learn in all developmental areas, allowing for individual differences in learning, teaching styles and rates, encouraging creativity through a variety of play experiences. It is a holistic approach, a child-centred programme based on the child’s developmental needs. The curriculum also includes subjects such as art and craft, ceramics, music and sports, all of which are given equal importance. Talents bloom under constant encouragement.

Every child is groomed to be an all-rounder and a responsible citizen of the country. Love for one another and respect for humanity as well as every living creature are emphasized through skits, projects, poems and stories of great individuals who have made a mark in life.

The School’s vision for the millennium is "Creating Visionaries for Universal Happiness".

Indian tradition kept alive by dancing with dandiyas in the
Udayachal Pre-Primary School music hall during Navratri.
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