March 20th, 2009

McDonald's Makes Major Move into School Education with Free Online Maths Program

By Bruce McDougall
The Daily Telegraph (Australia)

McDonald’s will today make a major move into school education, offering a free maths program to more than 1.4 million students.

McDonald’s restaurants across the nation are bankrolling the company’s biggest foray yet into schools.

Under the scheme the Maths Online tutoring program - usually costing $40 per month - will be provided free to individuals, classes or entire schools in the government, Catholic and independent systems.

When they open the program on their computers, students will see the McDonald’s logo and the words: “Proudly provided by your local McDonald’s restaurant.”

McDonald’s yesterday refused to reveal how much it was paying for the school campaign, claiming the figure was “commercially in-confidence”.

But The Daily Telegraph understands the total cost will run into millions of dollars.

McDonald’s has the support of Federal Education Minister Julia Gillard and the Australian Secondary Principals’ Association and will promote the program to students from Year 7 to Year 12.

Ms Gillard yesterday commended the company for “encouraging secondary schools and students across the country to utilise this resource”.

But State Opposition education spokesman Adrian Piccoli said that parents expected education to be independent of corporate interests.

“Maccas should stick to making hamburgers and the Government should stick to educating children,” Mr Piccoli said.

Professor Bobby Banerjee from the University of Western Sydney College of Business said the program might improve students’ maths but it was also promoting McDonald’s.

“There is a return for the company - they claim they are doing it to serve the community but that’s not entirely true,” he said.

Maths Online was developed by a team led by Sydney teacher Patrick Murray and features hundreds of animated and narrated lessons and over 15,000 exam-style questions.

Secondary Principals Association president Andrew Blair said McDonald’s was making a “generous contribution to building the foundation skills of Australian students”.

“The Maths Online product will be a marvellous assistance to the work of mathematics teachers throughout Australia,” he said.

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