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The BBC's Claire Doole in Vienna:
"Throughout the day, children are bombarded with the hard sell."
 real 28k

Wednesday, 26 April, 2000, 13:31 GMT 14:31 UK
Sponsoring Austria's schooling
Coke is it: Commercial sponsors are setting their sights on schools
Commercial sponsors are setting their sights on schools
By Claire Doole in Vienna

Across Europe there is less and less state money for education.

Austrian schools have come up with a free-market solution to the problem of ever decreasing budgets.

More and more schools are cutting deals with commercial sponsors to supplement their income and pull in the pupils.


Austria's top volleyball club trains stars of the future
Austria's top volleyball club trains stars of the future

A Viennese grammar school, one of the biggest, has led the way in pioneering sponsorship and advertising deals.

The school children attending Polgarstrasse school believe they are onto a winner.

They are trained by Austria's top volleyball club, Bayernwerk, and kitted out in the strip of their heroes.

Pick of the crop


Several school pupils have been turned into soccer stars
Several school pupils have been turned into soccer stars
In return, the club will get the pick of the crop to train as professional players.

Club manager Peter Kleinmann, says both sides benefit from the sponsorship deal.

"We need very good volleyball players and it is possible in this school to have the best volleyball players in Austria," he says.

"We have very good teachers with good motivation and maybe in a couple of years we have the next national players of Austria."


Guinea pigs:  Child uses innovative fingerprint machine
Guinea pigs: A child tests a new fingerprint machine

The Polgarstrasse school has cut the same deal with a top football team, which has already turned several pupils into professional soccer stars.

The children are also guinea pigs for new ideas.

They are currently testing out a machine which matches their fingerprints to their dinner order.

In return, the school gets hard cash. After these trials, the manufacturer hopes to sell the device to factories and security firms.

The hard sell

Throughout the day, the children are bombarded with the hard sell.


IBM has paid for a fully-equipped computer room at one grammar school
IBM has paid for a fully-equipped computer room at one school

At break-time, they stream past advertisements promoting sports gear, and mobile phones on their way to buy fizzy drinks and snacks at sponsored vending machines.

Even in the lessons, the sponsors make themselves felt.

They have paid for a fully-equipped computer room.

Information Technology teacher, Gabriella Hans, dismisses the charge that companies are trying to catch potential customers early.

"I don't think we are dependent on IBM," she says.

"I think if I buy a computer, I have to pay enough money and, even if the children may have a computer at home, I think IBM's got enough money anyway. This is just a way of giving some back."

However, others are more sceptical about the sponsors' tactics.

Rich get richer

Kurt Klester, an educational psychologist believes there is a danger of over-dependency.

The dangers we see are that in future schools could depend on sponsoring and that is what we don't want

Susanna Jerusalem, Opposition Green Party MP

"When you sponsor a school, at matriculation for example the sponsors will be there and say to a pupil 'Won't you come and join our company' so this person is bought by the company and this is not what we want."

Opposition Green party MPs, like Susanna Jerusalem, has also begun to voice doubts about the project.

"The dangers we see are that in future schools could depend on sponsoring and that is what we don't want," she says.

"The second danger we see it that poorer schools will become poorer and the rich richer."

However, the tide of opinion is against the voices of dissent.


Alf Mathuber:
Alf Mathuber: "Schools which have sponsoring deals will be the most attractive"

More than half of Austria's schools have advertising and sponsorship deals.

It accounts for 10% of the budget of the school which pioneered the scheme.

"It is quite clear that schools which have sponsoring deals will be the most attractive to pupils," says the school's director, Alf Mathuber.

"There is already a lot of competition to attract sponsors and it is certain that it is going to get tougher."

With the new right-wing government expected to slash spending further, schools believe that cutting deals with the private sector is the only way forward.

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