Some schools embrace support offered by retailers, while others figurativelty shudder with abhorrence. Is there a right or wrong position to take on this issue? In the end it is generally left to each school to consider the matter.
WHO BENEFITS FROM RETAILERS SUPPORTING SCHOOLS
There are pros and cons about programs such as Woolworths ‘Earn and Learn’ initiatives. Some believe these activities to be an unfair trading ploy. Others see this as no real issue, preferring to subscribe to the benefits of the program.
Schools are increasingly in need of resourcing. Funding only goes so far. It often seems more materials are needed than school budgets can afford. This adds to the appeal of programs like Woolworths ‘Earn and Learn’.
These school support programs were introduced in the late 1980’s. Coles ‘swap dockets for computers’ was one of the first. In an agreement between the retailer and Apple Computers, students were encouraged to collect shopper dockets. At the end of the promotion, these were exchanged for Apple 2E computers, printers and other hardware.
This annual promotion lasted for several years. In order to collect dockets, students did everything from foraging in rubbish bins to organising weekend car washes. Cars were cleaned in exchange for dockets.
In the years since, both Coles and Woolworths have offered sponsorship to Australia’s schools through rewarding shoppers. Coles most recent support was in the area of physical education equipment. While Coles sponsorship seems to have been discontinued, Woolworths are maintaining their ‘Earn and Learn’ program. There has been a significant change this year, with $10 of expenditure being necessary to earn each point.
Redeeming points for goods throws up some revealing cost interpretations.
* An Aussie Rules senior size football costs 732 points or $7,320 worth of shopping.
* A small Aussie Rules child’s football requires 218 points, $2180 worth of shopping.
* Plastic stack chairs range in cost from 732 points ($7,320) for a 26 cm chair up to 1832 points ($18,320) for a full size chair.
* A round table and four chairs, ideal for classroom group work will set the school back 5865 points, making the cluster worth $58,650.
* One iPad shockproof case comes at 1612 points, $16,120. A set of ten cases requires 12,098 points, $120,980 of shopping at Woolworths.
* A bag of 12 tennis balls costs 548 points, or $5480 in shopping terms. That equates to 45 stickers ($456) for each ball.
Resources that can be redeemed cover the spectrum of educational needs from text books and art materials to sports equipment, but the price is high. At $5 per sticker the redemption price was steep. At $10 for each one point sticker school community expenditure will need to be astronomical if schools are to gain significant benefit. However with schools experiencing ever tightening budget controls, every bit of support helps.