Bring a brick to DIY university

November 5, 2004

A small community in Peru will begin building a university this week - one brick at a time.

The municipality of Villa El Salvador, a shantytown in southern Lima, plans to build its first higher education institution with a project titled "One brick for your university". This week, schoolchildren in the area will collect materials from the homes of those who have pledged to contribute.

Jaime Zea Usca, the town's mayor, said: "With this initiative we hope to gather up to 50,000 bricks - about 50 per cent of the material needed."

Construction of the Universidad Tecnol"gica del Sur de Lima is scheduled to begin soon after the collection of materials. More than 700,000 students in Villa El Salvador and nearby districts will benefit from the university.

Municipal officials expect to accommodate 120 students in the first intake.

Courses will initially be offered in engineering and business management.

The Peruvian Congress has approved the project and granted a budget just short of $1 million (£545,500). This is not nearly enough to cover costs; hence the "one brick" plan.

Classes are scheduled to begin towards the end of 2005, and surrounding universities have agreed to provide initial teaching in the meantime.

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