Classroom Commercials

Commercial sponsorship of educational material for schools is a growth industry. More and more teachers are using leaflets and worksheets which have been prepared by commercial organisations, including financial ones. General money management is a favourite topic, but in explaining the various ways of handling money, the difference between impartial information and partial advertising can 'be very slight.

Consumer groups have voiced concern about the possibility of such erstwhile advertising material being used in schools, and an EC consumer committee has suggested that the content of sponsored material might be controlled to avoid the possibility of disguised advertising.

If you're worried that your child may be being taught about personal finance in an imbalanced or less than partial way, discuss it with the teachers - perhaps at a parent-teacher association meeting. It might be possible to correct any bias with leaflets from other sources.

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No laws can stamp out all abuse. The really determined fraudster or con-man will always survive. You can't expect total protection from sharp practices, so you should adopt a few self-defence techniques when the salesperson calls:

- if you're not interested, say so at once and close the door or hang up the phone

- if you are interested in the product in general terms but doubt your ability to resist the sales spiel, ask the salesperson to give or send you some literature and their business card so that you can get in touch when you've had time to consider the pro>- if you're... see: Self-defence

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