The best way to learn is through leadership, and there’s no better example of this than Dr. Augustine Francis Pinto, the owner of Ryan International Schools. While there might be a certain set of qualities crucial for successful leadership, strong conviction and sheer personality, undoubtedly, hold the utmost importance.
Dr. Pinto is a shining example of what an ambitious man with sky-high dreams can achieve in his life. His humble beginning as a clerk shaped his initial perspective towards education and constructive headship, which eventually helped him create one of the leading school chains in India.
Born to a farmer from Mangalore in Karnataka, Dr. Pinto graduated in economics from Chennai’s prestigious Loyola College in 1969. Soon afterward, he took up work as an administrative clerk at Bharat Swiss Plastics, a footwear company in Mumbai. However, he lost his job within two years due to the company shutting down its operations.
However, he never dithered from his path and aimed to turn the roadblock into the next big opportunity, and started working as a temporary primary teacher at a school in Malad, a suburb of Mumbai. “While working at this school, I developed an affinity for teaching children. Also, I was inspired by the dedication and commitment of Mrs. Sequeira, principal of the school. She went from house to house in a bullock cart, persuading parents to send children to her school, which she started with the first batch of 12 students, in a single room. It then occurred to me that if this frail old lady could have built up a fully-fledged school from scratch, so could I,” Dr. AF Pinto revealed in an interview.
Working as an educator, Dr. Pinto was involved in the promotion of several primary and secondary schools, cultivating the vital skillsets that Indian students need in the 21st century. Dr. Pinto, on observing the pent-up demand for good quality, English-medium education in the rapidly growing suburbs of Mumbai believed that he had a social obligation of providing high-quality education to this new middle class, which would drive the country’s growth and development. Hence, right from the start of my entry into school education, he was determined to expand the scale of operations through my continuous promotion of new institutions.
Dr. AF Pinto found the perfect partner to accompany him on his edupreneurial journey when he met and married Grace Albuquerque, a science and maths teacher, in 1974. Two years later, in 1976, Mr. and Mrs. Pinto set up Father Agnelo Primary School in Borivali, Mumbai. Started with a capital of Rs 10,000, the school failed to take off, forcing Dr. AF Pinto to return as a full-time teacher at St Francis School, Malad. However, Dr. Pinto hadn’t given up on his dream yet, and in 1983, he laid the foundation of what the world today knows as the Ryan International Group of Institutions.
Started in 1983, St Xavier’s High in Borivali was the first school in what would grow as a leading school chain of the country. The school garnered great success, further propelling the Ryan International School owner’s dream of making quality education accessible to all. Attributing the success of the group to divine intervention, Dr AF Pinto says, “Nearly 25 years ago, God planted a seed in my heart and directed me to spread affordable, high-quality English-medium education within Indian society. Our efforts, dedication and vision have finally helped us to establish one of the largest chains of high-quality education institutes in India.”
For his contribution to the upliftment of education sector in the country, Dr. Pinto was honored with the ‘International Man of The Year Award’ by the International Biographical Center, Cambridge, UK. He is also a proud recipient of the prestigious ‘Rajiv Gandhi Award for Environment’ owing to his tremendous efforts to raise awareness about the environment.
Today, the Ryan International Group of Institutions has over 135 schools spread across 18 states in the country. Nearly 300,000 students and 15,000 educators are carrying Dr. AF Pinto’s vision forward. Under the guidance of Dr. AF Pinto, the Ryan Group is also establishing its off-shore school campuses. The group already has 2 schools in operation in the Middle East. The idea conceived nearly three decades earlier has now reached to fruition, by becoming one of the most impressive success stories of our times.