A vibrant society begins at home, but companies have a role to play
Back in 1996 when I organized the first charitable polo match, with a team captained by the Prince of Wales, the BMG Foundation was created and the term Corporate Social Responsibility, or CSR for short, was used for the first time in Saudi Arabia. Years later, major respectable institutions in different sectors, such as the National Commercial Bank, Savola, SABIC, ALJ and others, started to implement in-house departments to provide CSR activities.
One of the themes of Vision 2030 is to create a vibrant society with strong foundations. The goal is to promote and reinvigorate social development in order to build a strong and productive society. The aim is to strengthen family unity, provide the education that builds children’s fundamental characters and establish empowering health and social care systems.
From my over 20 years experience in CSR, I realized that parents are the most important block of any good society. It is not the schools that shape the young generations, but the parents, and mothers in particular.
The engagement of parents in their children’s education is one of the main principles of success for any community. The goal by 2020 is for 80 percent of Saudi parents to be engaged in school activities and the learning process of their children.
The government will launch the Irtiqaa program, which will measure how effectively schools are engaging parents in their children’s education.
The program will establish parent-led boards in schools, to open discussion forums and further engage with parents. Teachers will receive training to raise their awareness of the importance of communicating with parents and equip them with effective methods to do so successfully. The program will also collaborate with private and non-profit sectors to offer innovative educational programs and events that can improve this academic partnership.
When we started our awareness programs in safe driving, water conservation and healthy lifestyles, we wanted the parents to take an active role in guiding their children on how to participate in these awareness campaign competitions.
Although we organize these competitions among university students, we did a pilot program once for elementary school students in which parents became actively involved, which was the most successful outcome by far.
The Saudi Labor and Social Affairs Ministry has started to organize CSR initiatives by supporting the creation of Non-Governmental Organization programs. This will encourage the private sector to engage more actively in providing CSR activities under the support of the government. We as private sector members should play our roles in the community in creating CSR programs and complement the government’s role in creating a vibrant society.
Basil M.K. Al-Ghalayini is the Chairman and CEO of BMG Financial Group.