There has been a stable trend of commercialization of education over the course of the last decades. Molnar and Boninger (2015) argue that there are two primary drivers behind it. The first is the deficit of state funding, which compels schools to seek additional sponsors and resources. The second is that corporations are interested in pursuing partnerships with educational institutions. As a result, both lead to a dangerous tendency that can devalue education. In my opinion, excessive commercialization of education will backfire in the form of the resulting lack of students’ analytical skills.
On the surface, it seems irrational for a company to pour money into schools. After all, there is the little immediate payout. Yet, Molnar and Boninger (2015) believe that establishing corporate relationships with educational establishments is a successful strategy. It is an effective course of action because it exploits teenager psychology. Firstly, by introducing themselves students to schools’ sponsors, corporations advertise themselves and build brand loyalty. Secondly, teenagers begin to associate their desires with the images and promises offered by corporate brands. Therefore, corporations receive long-term benefits in the form of greater publicity and loyal customers.
There are seven categories of partnerships between a school and a business entity. The first is the sponsorship of programs and activities. For instance, a school organizes an event and names a corporation as the primary benefactor in exchange for financial help. The second form of partnership is exclusive agreements, which allow companies to sell their goods and services on the school’s territory. The school receives a percentage of profits in return. Another form of commercial activity is an incentive program. An example would include a school receiving money from a corporation in exchange for the collection of product labels and receipts from stores.
The fourth iteration is the appropriation of space, within which a company buys the right to place its logo or advertisements on visible objects. A more advanced version is sponsored educational materials when schools use corporate instructional materials in education. The sixth partnership takes the form of electronic marketing. In the same manner, corporations can provide educational establishments with hardware and software, while students are made aware of the name of the provider. The final way commercialization plays out is fundraising. Within it, schools request voluntary funds from students, parents, and the staff in order to finance a program suggested by a corporation.
All of these initiatives may resolve the issue of finances, but it negatively impacts the quality of education. Molnar and Boninger (2015) write that “corporate materials can undermine the development of scientific, creative, and critical thinking: (p. 115). Practically, it means that for studying, students consistently receive the message that a particular brand or corporation is qualitative and should be preferred to others. The absence of alternatives makes students believe this message and gives no reason to explore the issue in detail.
Altogether, it is evident that fusing corporations with schools have both positive and negative outcomes. On the one hand, schools receive the necessary financing for the organization of their events, activities, and even educational programs. Additionally, students get acquainted with modern brands and corporations. On the other hand, the choice of sponsors is limited and can encourage students to value and pursue those logos and brands that they are exposed to. This results in poor market awareness and the inability to critically analyze the offer due to the bias that originates in school.
Molnar, A., & Boninger, F. (2015). Sold out: How marketing in school threatens children’s well-being and undermines their education. Rowman & Littlefield.