Brazil Enacts Affirmative Action Law for Universities

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Campus Life, Caribbean/Latin America, Law, New Media, Politics/Public Policy on 2012-08-31 18:36Z by Steven

Brazil Enacts Affirmative Action Law for Universities

The New York Times

Simon Romero, Brazil Bureau Chief

RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil’s government has enacted one of the Western Hemisphere’s most sweeping affirmative action laws, requiring public universities to reserve half of their admission spots for the largely poor students in the nation’s public schools and vastly increase the number of university students of African descent across the country.

The law, signed Wednesday by President Dilma Rousseff, seeks to reverse the racial and income inequality that has long characterized Brazil, a country with more people of African heritage than any nation outside of Africa. Despite strides over the last decade in lifting millions out of poverty, Brazil remains one of the world’s most unequal societies.

“Brazil owes a historical debt to a huge part of its own population,” said Jorge Werthein, who directs the Brazilian Center for Latin American Studies. “The democratization of higher education, which has always been a dream for the most neglected students in public schools, is one way of paying this debt.”…

…But while affirmative action has come under threat in the United States, it is taking deeper root in Brazil, Latin America’s largest country. Though the new legislation, called the Law of Social Quotas, is expected to face legal challenges, it drew broad support among lawmakers.

Of Brazil’s 81 senators, only one voted against the law this month. Other spheres of government here have also supported affirmative action measures. In a closely watched decision in April, the Supreme Court unanimously upheld the racial quotas enacted in 2004 by the University of Brasília, which reserved 20 percent of its spots for black and mixed-race students…

…Brazil’s 2010 census showed that a slight majority of this nation’s 196 million people defined themselves as black or mixed-race, a shift from previous decades during which most Brazilians called themselves white…

Read the entire article here.

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