Brazil Approves Racial Quotas for Higher Education
As you may have gathered from past posts I have thus far spent the majority of the few months before arriving to Brazil and now in Brazil working on social development through education. The `college`system is still fairly new to Brazil and has had and continues to have impressive growth.
I recently read about a Supreme Court of Brazil plenary session where a decision was made for the adoption of racial quota policies in higher education institutions across the country. It will not be mandatory, instead it will allow educational institutions the legal right to devote a specific percentage of places for students of African and/or Indigenous origin.
The measure is a reflection of affirmative action policies being constitutional in the country since democratization in 1988. These policies basically state that Brazil acknowledges that people are not treated equally and as a result do not have the same opportunities which prevents them from producing knowledge and engaging in the power of negotiation.
The University of Brasilia (UNB) was the first educational institution to adopt the measure when, in 2004, it started reserving 20% of its university places exclusively for students of African decent, and a smaller percentage for those of Indigenous background, without the entry requirement of taking the regular university exam.
According to Minister Joaquim Barbosa, “these measures are intended not only to combat manifestations of blatant discrimination, but discrimination in fact, that is absolutely rooted in society, and so ingrained, people do not perceive it”,
However, not everyone agrees with the decision of the Supreme Court. Videoblogger Daniel Fraga argues that in a country such as Brazil, where racial mixing is very high, it would be difficult to correctly define who really is black or white. This decision would be made based on a “visual criteria,” and mentions UNB’s case of two twin brothers, one considered white and the other black, the latter gaining a quota place at the university.
The discussion will continue in the coming weeks since, besides this action, the Supreme Court is yet to decide the constitutionality of racial quotas when applied to a student who attended public school.