At least 95,000 low-income students in Brazil will have the opportunity to enter universities in 2005. This is the number so far selected by the University for All Program (ProUni).
The bill was signed January 13 by Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. This year the program will offer a total of 112.4 thousand scholarships in private and non-profit institutions of higher education.
In his speech, President Lula called upon the new university members to reveal the difficulties they encounter and help to perfect the system, in order to enable more students from the country’s poorest regions to have access to higher education.
To sign up for the ProUni, students must have obtained their secondary education either at public high schools or as full-scholarship students at private institutions.
If they are seeking a full scholarship, their family’s per capita monthly income should not surpass one and a half minimum wages, the equivalent of US$ 144 (390 reais).
At the end of last year, Lula announced that his government would give continuity to spending on education. “In 2005 we intend to spend US$ 619 million (1.7 billion reais) more on education,” he said.
The Brazilian leader also defined the goals for higher education in 2005. Among them, he cited the creation of the campuses of the Garanhuns University Center in Pernambuco and the Federal University of the Greater ABC Region in São Paulo.
“We shall make the Brazilian university become more a part of the interior, as well as giving the poorest regions of the country the chance to have a university and the adolescents there not to have to spend hours traveling by bus to attend a good university,” Lula affirmed.
He recalled that federal educational institutions will receive 34% more operating funds next year, and six thousand new teachers will be hired. Another of the government’s priorities is to conclude the university reform.
“We are working with the presidents of the universities and society, because we understand that modernization is necessary, for, among other reasons, to ensure the autonomy of our universities,” he said.
Lula called the creation of the University for All Program (Prouni) “the biggest educational advance in 2004.”
Around 1200 private and non-profit institutions of higher education have already signed on to the program, which offers partial tax exemption in exchange for free scholarships for low-income students.
“We have a commitment to find 70 thousand new places for youngsters, especially those who attended public high schools, to study.”
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