SAO PAULO – As bad as conditions are on the Guarulhos campus of the Federal University of São Paulo (Unifesp), with its sweltering classrooms and improvised cafeteria, they’re even worse at the kindergarten next door, where some of the university’s approximately 3,000 students are now having to take classes.

The overcrowded Unifesp has been promising to construct a new building since 2007. So far, nothing’s been built, forcing the overcrowded university – much to the chagrin of its students – to begin using the classrooms of a nearby kindergarten.

“We are discussing Hegel while outside the classroom there are children goofing around during their break. We can’t bear these classes anymore,” says university student Michael de Santana, 27. 

Guarulhos, where São Paulo’s international airport is located, has about 1,300,000 residents.

Demanding better conditions, Unifesp students from the Guarulhos campus began protesting about two months ago. Last Friday they occupied the Academic Division. Now students at several others federal universities—which are maintained by the national government and are cost-free for students— are threatening similar actions.

Students in Guarulhos say the on-campus classes are uncomfortable too. “In summer it gets extremely hot and there is no ventilation,” says De Santana. Others complain that in order to make photocopies, they must wait in line for 40 minutes. The tiny cafeteria – which is housed in a wooden shed – is also a source of frustration.

The school’s academic director, Marcos Cezar de Freitas, insists the kindergarten “solution” will only be temporary. He says the long-promised new building will be moving forward now that the construction bidding process has finally been settled.

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