Despite a call for schools to boycott supermarket promotional schemes, the majority of primary schools in Sligo have already registered to take part in a campaign currently running in two rural SuperValu stores, The Sligo Champion has learned.Two local teachers have called for a boycott of the SuperValu Kids in Action campaign which is running in stores in TubbBy Jim Gray
Despite a call for schools to boycott supermarket promotional schemes, the majority of primary schools in Sligo have already registered to take part in a campaign currently running in two rural SuperValu stores, The Sligo Champion has learned.
Two local teachers have called for a boycott of the SuperValu “Kids in Action’ campaign which is running in stores in Tubbercurry and Ballymote, but figures show that 44 or the 67 primary schools in the county are participating.
The “Kids in Action” campaign has been strongly criticised by Mr. John Fogarty of Corballa National School and Ms. Carmel Morley of Sligo School Project, who describe it as ‘exploitative, self-serving and discriminatory’, and they have urged parents and teachers to boycott the scheme.
The scheme operates on a voucher collection system, with schools accumulating sufficient vouchers to obtain ‘free’ sports equipment.
Mr. Gearoid Surlis, who runs the Supervalu store in Tubbercurry, has defended the scheme and has said the majority of local schools are happy with it. While acknowledging that the INTO has valid complaints about withdrawal of PE grants from schools, he claims the “Kids in Action” scheme is a valid method for schools to obtain vital equipment.
“The scheme is very well received locally. The schools are very happy with it, as is evidenced by the fact that 44 out of the county’s 65 primary schools have registered for the scheme this year.
Our experience is that the schools, teachers, parents and students are very happy with the way in which the scheme operates and the assistance it offers to schools, and are pleased to be involved in it.
“Of course, there is a marketing and promotional aspect to the scheme, as is the case with all of these promotions, but there is no doubt that it does help schools in a positive way.
“In addition to this particular scheme, the two Supervalu stores in Sligo jointly sponsor a county primary schools relay event each year, so we are giving something back to the community”, Mr. Surlis said.
However, the Sligo teachers point to the massive levels of expenditure required to gain basic equipment through the scheme. They claim that in order to obtain a GAA trainer footballer which retails at ?11.70, receipts totalling ?3,190 are required; ?10, 630 worth of receipts are needed to get tag rugby belts which retail at ?27; and ?39,920 worth of shopping would be needed to qualify for a gymnastic springboard which can be bought in shops for ?250.
“The losers in the scheme are the small schools, poor schools and special schools in County Sligo, who cannot raise these massive amounts in just 10 weeks”, according to Mr. Joseph Fogarty.
Urging schools and parents not to participate in the scheme, he called on SuperValu to make a ‘truly philanthropic donation to Sligo schools rather than this calculating marketing scheme’.
“It is shameful that the government continue to endorse such profit-driven schemes while withholding the PE equipment grant from schools”, he added.
Ms. Carmel Morley from the Sligo School Project said that while she understood families and the wider community wanted to help their local schools by collecting the tokens, she urged people to consider who really gained from their efforts.