Mixed response to foray into maths curriculum by McDonald’s

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 20th March 2009

McDonald’s Australia is offering a free maths program to more than 1.4 million students nationwide in a move that has divided opinion.

The world’s largest fast-food chain suggests that the program, which normally costs $40 per month but will now be offered free, is about helping the community rather than promoting their products.

“There’s no reference to promoting anything, talking about food,” McDonald’s Australia Managing Director, Catriona Noble, claimed. “We think, along with our licensees, it’s about giving back to the community like we do with Ronald McDonald House charities or little athletics.”

Ms Noble added that the site would be independently run and had been bankrolled on the back of a successful trial with their employees.

“We’re certainly not trying to do the job of educators. We’re not experts in that area and that’s why this is independently developed and run,” she noted. “We’re really proud to be supporting that and we do think it’s every corporate’s responsibility to give back.”

Students will be informed that it is “proudly provided by your local McDonald’s restaurant” upon opening the program, but there are no other links to the company once they begin the tutorial.

The company has the support of Federal Education Minister Julia Gillard and the Australian Secondary Principals’ Association, but NSW State Opposition education spokesman Adrian Piccoli was cynical of the move.
“Maccas should stick to making hamburgers and the Government should stick to educating children,” Mr Piccoli said.

The New South Wales Parents and Citizens Federation is also skeptical, accusing McDonald’s of “subliminal advertising in the greatest form” on ABC radio.