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Brazil eyeing public service quotas for blacks

17 october 2012, 10:23
0
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. ©AFP
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. ©AFP
President Dilma Rousseff wants to introduce public service quotas for black Brazilians as a way to repay a historic debt for centuries of slavery and discrimination, AFP reports citing a government source.

The official told AFP that the government is considering adopting a quota system for new public service contracts and exams to benefit Afro-Brazilians, who make up the country's majority but remain at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder.

The specifics have not yet been worked out but Rousseff would like to announce the new scheme this year, he added, speaking on condition of anonymity.

On Monday a new law went into effect that reserves half of the seats in public universities and technical institutes to public school students, with priority given to Afro-Brazilian and indigenous students over a 10-year period.

"This law helps repay a historic debt of Brazil toward our underprivileged youths," Rousseff said in her weekly radio program Monday.

Universities will have four years to implement the system, but the quotas will start going into effect next year, with 12.5 percent of seats reserved for students of African or indigenous descent.

The new measures aim to correct a situation in which well-off students who receive a private education get top grades which guarantee them access to public universities, which in Brazil are the most prestigious.

Critics say the legislation discriminates against those who are not beneficiaries of the quotas.

But black groups which have long fought for the quotas see them as necessary to end what leading black activist David Santos has called "a policy of inaction that benefited the most privileged".

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