Brazilian city model tackles schools shortage

Samantha Pearson:

The residents of Belmonte, a poor neighbourhood on the northern outskirts of Brazilian mining city Belo Horizonte, have heard and seen it all. Between May and July, police arrested 14 gang members suspected of operating a “dial-a-drug” delivery business in the region. One of the gang was a military police officer, who allegedly used the code word “barbecue” to warn the others when his colleagues were planning a raid.
But when workers started erecting a “flat-pack” school among the neighbourhood’s makeshift houses early this year, curiosity got the better of even the most world-weary of locals, says Danilo Andrade, the project’s chief engineer. “Many people came to see what was going on,” he says, casting his eye over the angular red and turquoise structure, topped with a distinctive cone spire.
The building is the first of 32 state nursery schools, known by the abbreviation Umei (municipal infant education units), to be delivered over the next 16 months under a new public-private partnership (PPP) scheme.