updated 6/8/2005 2:04:42 PM ET 2005-06-08T18:04:42

Unemployed and love music? If so, a British school is offering teenagers a deal — take a summer course and bag an iPod.

Out of work teenagers are being offered digital iPod music players if they complete courses aimed at helping them find jobs, officials at school in southern England said Wednesday.

Critics say handing out the players — which cost around 170 pounds ($300) in Britain — to students embarking on the "Step Up for Summer" course at Bournemouth and Pool College amounts to bribery.

Nick Seaton, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, said the 14-week course, which is funded by the Government's Learning and Schools Council, is sending teenagers the wrong message.

"The people who are organizing the course must feel the youngsters don't really want to go, otherwise they wouldn't feel it was necessary to offer them iPods," he said.

"To me they are offering them a bribe. It's giving the wrong message about the value of education. It tells teenagers they don't have to do anything unless they are getting a sweetener."

But a spokeswoman for Bournemouth and Poole College said the school's target youngsters "are predominantly disaffected by education, they have possibly not had a very good experience in the school sector and therefore are not engaged in learning."

"I see it (the iPod offer) as an incentive to get them back in to learning," she said.

She said the college has so far had 30 applications for the 100 places available.

The course, which is limited to those aged 16-18, includes team-building activities such as outdoor pursuits and extreme sports; life skills, including how to write a resume and budget your money; travel tips; first aid and community work. Students will be required to do paid employment for one day a week.

In a separate initiative, Glasgow City Council recently announced that it would reward high school students who buy healthy meals at school canteens with points that can be traded for cinema tickets, book tokens, iPods and Xbox games consoles.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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