Gurgaon: The website of Ryan International School welcomes its visitors with a big photograph of its managing director Grace Pinto posing with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. With little more effort, a visitor is able to find information about the founder chairman of the Ryan International School, Augustine F Pinto.
According to a report by India today Grace Pinto, who is practically the face of the group, seems to be well-connected. The group’s website flaunts her pictures with Union ministers. Her photograph with Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi is also doing rounds on social media.
The Ryan International School is named after their (Augustine and Grace) son, Ryan Pinto, who is the chief executive officer of the group. Marred with controversies in the past and in the eye of public anger at the moment following the murder of 7-year-old Pradyuman of class I inside its Gurgaon campus, Ryan International School is one of the fastest growing educational groups in the country.
The Ryan International group has schools across 18 states of the country and abroad. According to Wikipedia, the Ryan International group presently owns 186 schools, however the official website puts the number of institutions at “more than 135.”
The Ryan International School was founded at Borivali in Mumbai in 1976 by AF Pinto following his struggles to get a decent and long lasting job.
AF Pinto’s father was a farmer in Karnataka. Pinto spent his early life in Mangalore district of Karnataka. But, he was keen in studies and graduated from prestigious Loyola College of Chennai in Economics in 1969. A search for job took Pinto to Mumbai, as was the trend in those days.
Pinto got a job with a footwear company called Spring Plastics. But he lost his job in two years as the company shut down its operations. Pinto found it hard to get a decent job for some time after which he joined a school with the help of one of his friends.
As a teacher in the Mumbai school, Pinto got possessed with the idea of launching his own group of schools. In a 2008-interview, Pinto said that watching his principal from close quarters, the idea of launching his own group of educational institutions struck him.
He referred to an incident when his principal, who according to Pinto was an old and frail woman, visited homes of people to convince them to send their children to school to study.
This incident inspired Pinto to establish his first school by name the Father Angelo Primary School in the Borivali East with an investment of Rs 10,000 – a big amount for those days. It took less than Rs 9 to buy a dollar back then.
The Father Angelo Primary School failed but Pinto didn’t give up. By now he had by his side wife Grace. AF Pinto had married Grace Albuquerque in 1974. Grace was also a teacher and taught Mathematics and Science.
After his own school failed to take off as a business venture, Pinto went back to teaching taking up a job with the Saint Francis School, Malad in Mumbai. Pinto and Grace came back to their own again in 1983 when they resurrected the failed school by the name of the St Xavier’s High.
The St Xavier’s High was a catholic school affiliated to Maharashtra education board. This became the foundation for building the educational empire of Pinto and Grace. They went on build the largest and possibly the most successful private group K-12 schools (from Kindergarten to class XII) in the country.
Their son and group’s CEO Ryan Pinto looks after their overseas expansion. The Ryan International has already signed memorandum of understanding with local partners in many countries including the US, the UAE, Thailand and Maldives.
Today, AF Pinto and Grace boast of employing more than 18,000 faculty members and educating 2,70,000 students at their schools. But, Pradyuman Thakur is no longer one of those students because he was killed in the most gruesome manner inside the premises of the most powerful private school education group in the country. Despite the arrest of “suspect”, the culprits are hard to be traced as the CCTV cameras of the Gurgaon school were not working and conflicting statements are being given to police.