In this piece, Chika Izuora captures Premium Steel & Mines sustained Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) commitment fashioned to boost economic development and community relationship
The Premium Steel & Mines Limited (PSML) a company that integrates proactive CRS policies in its business plan and strategy with a long-term vision to achieve sustainable growth for the company and to align private returns with social returns has brought about a turn around development around its operating environment.
PSML previously known as the Delta Steel Company is an integrated steel plant located in Warri, Delta State, and is at the forefront of kick-starting the steel sector in Nigeria.
The steel sector is vital to the Industrialisation of Nigeria and to the diversification of the country’s economy.
The firms current investments into the steel plant and its future expansion plans have the potential to make it one of the largest integrated steel manufacturers in the country – offering a portfolio of high quality finished steel products.
PSML’s clear-cut and proactive CSR policy allows for the prompt implementation of its CSR strategy that is hinged on four key themes: youth empowerment, access to quality education, healthcare improvement and poverty alleviation.
The CSR policy is supported by a dedicated annual budget and key objectives which aims at enhancing relationships with all stakeholders, including government, the media, civil society groups, community leaders through the implementation of a well-defined CSR agenda.
It also looks at supporting the socio-economic development of its host community and to be heard and seen as a driver for implementing greener business operations.
Currently, its CSR projects fall under the following themes / program categories, Employability Trainee Programs, Scholarship Funds and Education Programs, Youth Empowerment Programs and healthcare Intervention Programs
PSML has been successfully executing its CSR projects through a structured engagement of its host community through the Community Development Associations (CDA) by working closely with their representatives to discuss implementation strategies for the CSR projects.
A key element of the implementation strategy for CSR projects not only to provide social benefits for the host communities, but to also create employment opportunities by hiring indigenous contractors, recommended by the local community, to implement these projects.
Recent successful project implement through the use of indigenous contractors include the renovation of the Ovwian Primary School andthe Technical College that were rehabilitated and received a complete overhaul to make them congenial to learning. In addition,brand new schools[Cmnt:1] having been built to bring education closer to distant communities.
This approach has also seen health facilities built, furnished, and equipped to support the health requirements of the Aladja community.
To complement the renovation of the educational facilities discussed above and to increase the access to education, PSML donated a 30-seater bus each to the local Primary School and the Technical High School – thereby facilitating the daily transport of students to school on a timely basis.
This initiative has substantially reduced the level of absenteeism and contributed to an increasein attendance of students at the schools a key indicator of future academic success.
Primary school is a critical stage in a child’s development and missing school or arriving late due to lack of adequate transportation can have lasting consequences on a child’s educational success and career prospects later in life.
In addition, the level of material covered in primary school curricular has increased substantially; hence, compounding the negative effects of missing school during these formative years of a child’s education.
Furthermore, research has linked chronic absenteeism to lower achievement in mathematics and reading skills, an increase in problem behaviour and difficulty in obtaining a score of “proficient” for admission to secondary and technical schools or to higher education institutions such as university.
According to Mr. Prasanta Mishra, Chief Executive Officer of PSML, “We came to the realization that lack of access to adequate transportation was one of the mainfactors that contribute to chronic absenteeism, keeping students out of school, and thereby leading to huge gaps in their learning curve,ultimately leading to low overall academic performance”.
This according to him led the organisation to ask itself “what do we do and how can we intervene?” The provision of comfortable and safe daily transportation to and from the school was an obvious answer.
Commenting on the donation, the Assistant [Cmnt:2] Head Teacher of the Ovwian Primary School said: “This is the beginning of a new dawn for the primary education department in our community. PSML started by giving us this thirty-seater bus.
This a feat that has never happened in the history of primary education here in Ovwian. This is the first bus; the first of many.”