Created in 2012, the Quota Law of federal educational institutions (Law 12,711/2012) will expire in 2022, if not renewed by Congress.
Quotas aim to redress historical injustices caused by slavery imposed on black people.
The Law guarantees that, at Public Universities and Federal Institutes, at least 50% of the places in each course are reserved for students who have completed high school in public schools. Half of these reserved places must be allocated to students from families with a monthly income equal to or less than 1.5 minimum wages per capita. Within the total amount allocated to quota holders, the vacancies must be filled by self-declared black, brown and indigenous students and by people with disabilities in a proportion at least equal to the respective of these groups in the state where the institution is located, based on the most up-to-date census of the IBGE.
Before the quotas, there was practically no diversity in public universities. Since the first quota policies, implemented in 2001, the number of black students has gradually increased in public universities.
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The increase in the representation of non-hegemonic groups in universities gave rise to encouragement for young people from the periphery, especially blacks, who previously did not see higher education as a possibility, to claim and occupy this space. It is curious that although education is a right for everyone, the level of education of blacks is usually lower than that of whites, even when it comes to poor white students.
The quota system for Afro-descendants aims to give unequal access to fundamental rights, which, according to the Federal Constitution/1988, is a right for all.
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The end of slavery in Brazil was not accompanied by a State project that would give support to the newly freed, providing them with minimal means of survival through free labor.
Most freed blacks continued to serve their masters in exchange for housing and food. Many others were cast to their own devices, without educational instruction and without a job.
The History of Brazil did not make official the importance of black people for the constitution of society and the formation of the working class. The abolition of slavery did not guarantee blacks an equal social status, since the group continues to be a victim of prejudice and discrimination.
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More than a hundred years after the abolition of slavery, Brazil – as well as other countries where there was slavery or racial segregation – started to adopt the racial quota system for the entry of blacks and indigenous peoples into universities as a way of doing historical justice.
It is important to emphasize that the State, through this type of policy, cannot exempt itself from the responsibility of implementing more effective measures to promote equality, that is, economic measures and structural reform policies (in education, health, housing, etc.). ) that provide those who are historically disadvantaged with conditions for economic and social ascension.
The country has a duty of historic reparation. This means recognizing inequalities in access to fundamental goods due to social and historical conditions, and also recognizing the perverse effects of racism in Brazil.
Its importance is also related to the expansion of racial ethnic plurality in spaces that historically only a segment of the population accessed, such as universities, public examinations, the large media, institutional politics, among others.
Quotas may not guarantee equity, but they are a way for the State to provide the excluded with access to fundamental rights.
It is not ten years of the quota law that will correct 348 years of trafficking and torture of black people in Brazil. Therefore, the Law must be renewed in 2022 for a period longer than the initial ten years, just so we can begin to dream of a less unequal Brazil.
*This is an opinion piece. The author’s vision does not necessarily express the newspaper’s editorial line Brazil in fact.