Shanghai campus ads raise concerns
Sponsors' cash lures schools on tight budget.
A growing number of Shanghai parents and teachers say they are concerned about the increasing presence of commercial advertisements in local primary and secondary school classrooms.
At primary schools in downtown Huangpu District, Shanghai, a toothpaste advertisement featuring a cartoon monkey is painted on blackboards at the back of every classroom.
The monkey is flanked by an introduction to Paopaowa toothpaste and teeth-caring tips that occupy about one-third of the blackboard, which was previously used for students to leave messages or write essays for their classmates to read.
"School campuses are supposed to be purely for children's study, how can commercial ads squeeze onto them?" asked a local mother surnamed Wang.
The toothpaste company, school authorities said, is sponsoring an ongoing contest to see which class can do the best job of decorating its blackboard. As part of the contest, all blackboards at the back of classrooms should bear the sponsor's logo and promotional articles.
"But the ads are temporary. The will be taken down along with the publicity material within a month," said a school official surnamed Bao. He said the school hasn't received any cash for the ads, but the company will pay for awards for whoever wins the contest.
"This is not the first time that ads have encroached on campus, not only on blackboards, but in other forms as well," Wang said.
Last month, a series of KFC coupons were found printed on the back cover of primary school students' academic guidance books, encouraging students to tear the cover off for discounted fast foods.
"It's really improper to introduce commercial advertising onto campus," said Liu Zhuangyi, office director of Pudong Foreign Language School, adding that accepting commercial promotions will ruin the school's image.
Education officials said many large companies spend tens of thousands of yuan to sponsor various academic contests in order to promote themselves to students, while smaller companies offer students free trials of small goods, such as candy or cosmetics, and pay schools a commission in order to put up some ads.
"The money is really a big attraction for schools with a tight budget," Liu said.