Beyond hospitality Fifth Chukker Resort drives CSR with free school for orphans

As Nigerian firms ramp up their social responsibility philanthropy, a surprise blockbuster drops from the hospitality industry.

In an extraordinary gesture of corporate social responsibility, Fifth Chukker Polo and Country Club is set to inaugurate a free 60-classroom primary school for orphans, disadvantaged and needy children inside its exquisite Kaduna resort. The billion Naira project, which began two years ago, is arguably the biggest primary school in all Africa and incorporates contemporary public space architecture where roomy, flexible and environment-friendly structures are the mode, perfecting a blend of form, function and utility.

The facility not only provides for better learning and teaching but also extends the educational experience beyond the classroom walls to recreational entitlements. A sports centre complete with basketball and tennis courts, a football field and an athletics track will make it one of the very well-appointed public primary schools in the country and represents a major step in mitigating the societal tragedy of the many unschooled children in Northern Nigeria.

The mega campus became inevitable after the nearby Maraban-Jos Primary School, which has been a major beneficiary of continuous support from Fifth Chukker’s Access Bank UNICEF Charity Shield Polo Tournament ran out of capacity to admit new pupils. The intervention had greatly improved the school’s fortunes, giving it a new computer library, renovated classrooms, conveniences with running water and a modern curriculum imparted by retrained teachers.

Unsurprisingly, the development triggered a massive influx of kids from neighbouring and even distant communities, ballooning enrolment to an unmanageable 12,500 pupils. A routine visit by Adamu Atta, founder of Fifth Chukker and Herbert Wigwe, managing director, Access Bank, in early 2019 was all it took to get the new project off the ground. Now it will alleviate the congestion in the old school and allow for more children in the local area to have access to decent primary school education.

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Atta summed the push for the scaling up: “We not only believe that all children have the right to go to school, the true purpose of this project is to show that we must light a candle and be a part of a bigger solution because we need all of us to make quality education possible for children of every background.” Atta also thanked some individuals that gave the project the needed push including; Herbert Wigwe, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhede, Tunde Folawiyo, Raj Gupta, Rasma Mangharan, who each donated a classroom block.

Over the years Fifth Chukker’s business model has elevated its corporate social responsibility thrust to a more precise science of strategic giving and accountable philanthropy. The framework places extensive focus on broad-based value creation previously anchored on the UN Millennium Development Goals but now ticking all the boxes of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. This means incorporating the developmental needs of its operative environment and society – from job creation and skills development opportunities to significant commitment to education, health and welfare – and integrating them into its business vision.

Fifth Chukker also utilizes its unique position, knowledge and influence in world polo and hospitality to build relationships with corporate, institutional and individual partners while leveraging their support and resources to sustainable social action and impact investment opportunities. This new school, rehabilitation of other community schools and scholarship to more than 12,000 children to complete their primary education are some case points.

Fifth Chukker’s collaborative partnership with Access Bank and UNICEF also addresses the needs of children right at home, helping parents and caregivers to earn a more secure living through soft finance, skills acquisition and procurement of business machines. Investment in the intermediaries immediately transforms the socioeconomic outcomes for the children and local communities.

No doubt, for some of the 12 million out-of-school children in Northern Nigeria, their parents/caregivers and communities, the inauguration of the school this Ramadan would consider this endowment from Fifth Chukker and partners the ultimate Sadaqah – the voluntary giving of charity without seeking any return but for the sake of gratifying God.

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