Published: 7 Jan 13 17:03 CET
Local education officials in Sweden are moonlighting for an Apple-supported project which promotes the company's products in Swedish schools, leading to concerns the extra gig presents a conflict of interests.
The project, called Tänk om ('Rethink' or 'Imagine' in Swedish), has direct ties to Apple's marketing efforts in Sweden and often employs teachers and education officials as consultants.
According to an email reviewed by Sveriges Radio (SR), Apple representatives say the company has invested "substantial sums" in the project, calling it a Swedish version of the Apple Professional Development Programme for K12 Education.
A review by SR found that public servants in several Swedish municipalities receive additional income from Tänk Om - and the list of people with potentially conflicting interests includes teachers, principals and IT coordinators.
"You should be buying the best education materials, not the ones tied to your income," public administration profssor Olle Lundin at Uppsala University told SR.
"This clearly risks denting the public's trust in the system."
To make matters worse, it appears that several educators feel pressure to stay silent on the matter despite niggling doubts.
A principal, who wanted to remain anonymous, told SR that both Apple and Tänk Om had been in contact after they questioned whether it was appropriate for educators "to sit on two chairs," the Swedish expression for a person who has potentially conflicting interests.
Apple refused to comment on the dilemma when contacted by SR, stating it had no official spokespersons.
Experts told SR that Apple currently commands around 40 percent of the market for school computers in Swedish, which is estimated to be around 1 billion kronor ($153 million) annually.