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‘Computers for schools’ promotions ungenerous

Fat kids get more kit

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School-targeted shopping promotion schemes don't provide particularly good value to participating schools, consumer rag Which? has claimed.

The magazine calculates that for a primary school to obtain one free entry-level PC plus printer and digital camera it would need 232 kids to collect 90 tokens each over a ten-week period. To get the tokens, their parents would together have to spend £208,800 on groceries.

The start of each year sees token mania hit schoolyards as retailers like Tesco offer vouchers which can be amassed and traded in for IT goods from the store. The promotion typically runs for ten weeks, but is £200,000 in groceries really only worth £1000 in IT kit?

For instance, £44,900 in shopping will deliver about 4490 tokens that can be traded in for a scanner, which the retailer flogs for only £80.

Walkers Crisps' and News International's (NI) joint scheme is only slightly better. It is focused on getting shoppers to buy crisps from Walkers or newspapers from NI that can eventually be traded in for books from HarperCollins (like NI, owned by the same News Corp.). For instance, seven weeks of dedicated Sun reading will earn kids a £4 book. Unfortunately, only seven of the 157 books on offer cost this much - the balance are up to five times more.

The article raises another issue: certain products are tagged to give extra vouchers when purchased. In past years, these products have typically been junk foods and fizzy drinks, suggesting that the schemes are inadvertantly promoting an unhealthy diet in children, contributing to child obesity and all kinds of bad things. ®

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