A hugely successful chartered accountant, Bijay Kumar Sahoo chose the path less trodden- that of building a world class school in Bhubaneswar. Sahoo already had a flourishing IT business- a BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) hub he pioneered in Odisha. But for all his achievements, he was looking beyond his established domain. Sahoo responded to the instincts of his heart and has started what is now called the Sai International School- one of the most acclaimed schools in the country both academically and for the gamut of extracurricular activities it offers for the holistic development of a student’s personality.
The school started in 2007 when Sahoo had already completed over 25 years in his core profession- chartered accountant. However, the school- Sahoo’s pet project did not take off in a jiffy. He visited around 250 schools across the world between 1997 and 2006 before starting Sai International School. He was possibly inspired by Nelson Mandela’s idea of education. Mandela once remarked that education is the most potent weapon which can be used to change the world.
In 2017, Sai International School was ranked as the fourth best school in the country and number one in Odisha in the World’s Top School Rankings published by the Education World. Today, the Sai International School has 4,300 students, 600 teaching staff and 1,000 non-teaching staff.
Born on June 1, 1963 in Bhubaneswar, Sahoo had a life of struggle in his childhood as his father’s income was not adequate to fulfil all family expenses. He started his education from DM School, from where he cleared class 12 in 1980. The fee was negligible as it was run by the central government. He then took admission at Ravenshaw College in Cuttack and graduated in 1982.
Sahoo recalls since he was good in studies, he won a scholarship of Rs 600 per year He also used to give tuitions to students to supplement his earnings. In 1982, he enrolled for Chartered Accountancy and went to Kolkata for articleship with a private company. He was paid a stipend of Rs 600 per month. “I had the responsibility of my family on my shoulders, as my father’s earnings were not enough,” he recounts.
After completing his CA in 1985, he came back to Bhubaneswar and started a CA firm AK Sabat and Company in a partnership, which he ran till 1992. Soon it became a leading CA firm and had several clients. The firm was started from a space of around 1,000 sq ft with around four staff members – and his earning was around Rs 10,000 every month by 1992.
In 2007, when he was earning around Rs 4-5 lakh every month from his firm, he took a sabbatical and decided to open a school with world class facilities. He purchased around eight acres of land in Bhubaneswar by taking a loan of Rs 10 crore from a bank, which was later extended to Rs 60 crore in the next five years. The rate of interest was 10 percent per annum. The construction began on February 14, 2007 and the doors of the school were thrown open for co-education on April 4, 2008.
In his passion for elevating educational excellence, Sahoo completed a programme in professional education at Harvard Graduate School of Education on ‘Making Learning Visible’. He followed it up with a programme on National College Leadership Development at the National College, Nottingham, UK and bagged a commendation for Global Teacher Accreditation by British Council, UK. Recognizing is efforts to spearhead educational reforms, the Government of India invited him as an advisor on the proposal of Model Concession Agreement for Public Private Partnership to establish 2500 Rashtriya Adarsh Vidyalayas for bringing in qualitative reforms of development in School education.
Despite being a thoroughbred finance professional, Sahoo remains an educationist at heart.