Black Students Constitute The Majority At Brazil’s Public Universities For The First Time In The Country’s History
Despite Black Brazilians making up majority of students in public universities, the country continues to battle economic inequality.
For the first time in reported history, students who identify as Black are the majority in Brazil's public higher education institutions, according to Face 2 Face Africa.
The Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) found in November 2018 that Black students make up about 50.3% of all students in public universities, the Rio Times reports.
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Although Black Brazilians make up the majority of the country's population, they were previously underrepresented and continue to have lower secondary and higher education completion rates.
The Social Inequalities by Color or Race report reveals Black Brazilians students come from the country's nearly 60% ethnic population.
However, the survey conducted by IBGE, as part of a government program that started in 2016, showed that Black Brazilians still fall behind in admission rates at all education levels. Only 55.6% of Black or brown students in the country have access to education and remain enrolled. In contrast, 78% of white Brazilians remain in school, according to Face 2 Face Africa.
Yet, the percentage of dropouts decreased from 30.8% in 2016 to 28.8% in 2018.
IBGE says the increase of Black students in higher education is due to the country's quota system that promises aid to disenfranchised communities. University programs and their expansion has also been accredited with assisting in improving the number of Black and brown students enrolled in school.
In 2017, writer Justin Bucciferro reported that "Racial identity may be fungible, but the schemas employed in Brazil nonetheless correspond to real social divisions, shaped by ancestry as well as class.”
Bucciferro said that despite Black Brazilians achieving economic gain within the last century, it wasn't until the past decade when the economic gap was narrowed since 1960.
Face 2 Face Africa reports that there still remains a vast economic gap in Brazil with most Black people living in poor neighborhoods known as favelas. The variance is most noticeable in the country's housing and economic opportunities.
The economic inequality in Brazil, which has one of the largest economies in the world, has reached extreme levels, according to Oxfam.
"Extreme inequality breeds conflict, violence, and instability. All Brazilians, regardless of social class or race, are affected by the inequality crisis," said Katia Maia, Oxfam Brazil's executive director.
The country's poorest 50% of the population is equivalent to the top six wealthiest men in the country. However, in 2089, Black Brazilians are expected to earn the equivalent to their white counterparts.