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Government under-funding facilitating commercialisation of schools – Crowe

13 April, 2007


Speaking this morning Sinn Féin Education spokesperson Seán Crowe slammed the Government for its "non-interventionist approach concerning the growing commercialisation of schools in this state." Deputy Crowe said due to a lack of Government funding schools are being left vulnerable to multinational companies who are more than willing to provide resources to schools but only under certain conditions.

The Dublin South-West TD said, "It is a fact that major multinationals are now aggressively pursuing schoolchildren and their parents as a lucrative advertising and consumer market. It seems that the classroom is the new advertising arena, home to around 450,000 potential 'consumers'.

"While companies promote themselves in schools as benevolent sponsors, they are in fact rather crudely exploiting the impressionable minds of young schoolchildren. I am calling on the Minister for Education and Science Mary Hanafin to immediately tackle commercial activity in schools and make them commercial-free zones.

"The fact is that there should be no need for such sponsorship if the state sufficiently funded schools in the first place. If we are not careful we could end up with a situation akin to that in the US where schools are now swamped in advertising and commercial promotions and activity.

"Due to the Government's underfunding of Information Communications Technology in schools for instance, children and parents have had to fundraise to purchase 86 per cent of computer hardware, software and peripherals in schools, with the majority of ICT equipment now obsolete. While major supermarket chains offer 'free' standard PCs to schools, costing around €800, they are estimated to generate over €200,000 worth of shopping as a direct result. The days of schoolchildren having to collect thousands of shopping receipts in order for their school to receive computers should be over.

"There is already enough pressure on children and their parents to provide for them without insatiable multinational interests exploiting schools and classrooms. The Government should act to protect schools as centres of learning and not ripe spheres of commercial activity and should ensure that all schools become commercial-free zones. Instead the Government sit back and allow multinationals subsidise our education system due to their lack of funding, a sponsorship that comes with a very real cost."

Críoch

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