Federal University of Rio De Janeiro will have to make more room for mixed-race and black students. (Google Images)

Lucy Jordan of The Rio Times is reporting that the senate in Brazil has passed a bill that will require prestigious federal universities to reserve 50 percent of their admission spots for public school students, and increase the number of spots allotted to black, mixed-race and indigenous students. Jordan writes:

“The law states half of the places reserved will be allocated to students with family income equal to or less than 1.5 times minimum wage, and of these students, priority will be given to blacks, mixed-race and indigenous students, depending on the racial make-up of each Brazilian state, a document from the senate explained. Globo calculated that the law would result in a 128 percent increase in the number of places in Rio de Janeiro’s four federal universities set aside for students of African or indigenous descent.”

The law, which is based on the U.S. model of affirmative action, has been put into place because of the lack of representation of mixed race and Black Brazilians at the country’s public universities and in well-paying professions in society, which is highly problematic in a country where more than 50 percent of its residents identify themselves as being of African origins.  Opponents of the plan believe that the law is unnecessary because there was never insitutionalized racism in Brazil and that admisssion should be based on merit, not race.

Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff is expected to sign the bill into law this week. Read more at The Rio Times.

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