The prime focus area of Dr. Achyuta Samanta, the visionary founder-director of KIIT University and the Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS, estb. 1992), is the latter institution which provides free-of-charge K-postgrad education to 15,000 aboriginal children drawn from 62 most backward and neglected tribes of the eastern seaboard state of Odisha (pop. 41 million), who are housed, fed, clothed and educated in the world’s largest residential school. However in the 23 constituent schools of KIIT University, and the state-of-the-art KiiT International School, Bhubaneswar affiliated with the Delhi-based Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), Cambridge International Examinations (CIE), UK and International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO), Geneva, children from all castes, tribes, classes and creeds receive high quality education. As per an ingenious schema devised by him, surpluses generated by these for-profit institutions power the growth and expansion of KISS.
With Odisha’s upper middle class growing in number and affluence, in 2007 Samanta promoted KiiT International School (KiiT IS), Odisha’s first internationally benchmarked school and the first primary-secondary in eastern India to apply for IB affiliation. Since then KiiT IS has rapidly assumed shape and form in trademark KIIT style on a compact 25-acre campus amidst a cluster of KIIT University institutions in suburban Bhubaneswar. The school’s 500,000 sq. ft built-up area spread over five buildings obviously inspired by the Louis Kahn school of architecture (long corridors, cross ventilation and airy classrooms), is supported by a 120-strong faculty recruited from across the country and abroad and hosts 750 students mainly from eastern India and north-east states, but also from 11 foreign countries including Canada, US, UK, Korea, Bangladesh and Nigeria. Of them 550 reside in modern air-conditioned residential suites, each housing either four or two students. Tuition fees range from Rs.2.4-4.5 lakh per year for boarders and Rs.1-4 lakh for day boarders.
“Mainly through word-of-mouth publicity, KiiT International School has got off to a good start. We have been able to attract excellent faculty from around the world who have implemented child-centric and experiential learning pedagogies which are rare in this part of the world. While KiiT IS is a 21st century, new age school, it is also culturally rooted. It’s a secular school in which children are consciously taught to respect Indian traditions such as regard for teachers and elders, and life skills appropriate in Indian and Asian socio-cultural environments,” says Dr. Mona Lisa Bal, an alumna of Calcutta, KIIT and Utkal universities and founder chairperson and chief executive of KiiT IS.
Given this guiding philosophy, considerable importance is given to co-curricular education in KiiT IS. Children have a wide range of vocal and instrumental music and dance (Odissi, hiphop, contemporary, kathak and ballet) learning opportunities. Simultaneously generous sports and games facilities for cricket, hockey, rugby, basketball, volleyball, tennis, golf, chess, carom, swimming and horse riding have been provided on campus and in dedicated sports grounds adjoining the campus. “Although physically complete, KiiT IS is still a work in progress. Our goal is to inculcate international mindedness in our students and mould them into good human beings and true global citizens. We have got off to an excellent start, but we are still consolidating our systems and processes. Our best is yet to come,” says Dr. Monalisa Bal.