Brazil’s government program, University for All, has received support from a total of 32 privately-owned universities even before getting congressional approval. The program provides students of African descent, Indians and low-income families with a place in public, tuition-free universities.
Brazil’s Minister of Education, Tarso Genro, said he was pleased with the support and explained that the quota system would be controlled by the government.
The program sets aside 10 percent of vacancies in not-for-profit, private-sector universities for students from families with incomes of up to a minimum wage (US$ 81.30), Negroes, Indians and public school teachers.
President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has already endorsed the bill creating the University for All Program (Prouni) and has presented it to the members of the National Social Development Council (CNDS) on May 13.
“The President has already given his endorsement to the University for All, which is ready to be submitted to the National Congress,” said the presidential Chief of Staff, Minister José Dirceu after a meeting with the Minister of Education, Tarso Genro.
The program will reserve places in private universities for needy students with per capita family incomes of less than one minimum wage, preferibly public school graduates and basic education teachers in the public school system.
Selection will be based on the results of the National Secondary School Examinations (Enem), instead of the usual university entrance exams.
“The project combines two fundamental components, first offering an extraordinary opportunity to basic education teachers and young people from public schools, and, within this, applying the quota system,” Genro commented.
Another article included in the bill plans to set the percentage of places for black, mulatto, and native students in accordance with the figures contained in the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics’ (IBGE) most recent census.
“This totally eliminates the possibility of self-classification as a member of the black community,” he said.
The Prouni will permit private universities, philanthropical or profit-oriented, to prefer to grant these students full scholarships in return for an exemption from taxes for which they are currently liable, such as the Social Security Tax (ISS) and the Social Contribution on Net Profit (CSLL). The Ministry of Education expects that at least 70 thousand openings will be filled.
The institutions that choose to adhere to the Prouni will also guarantee the participation of students enrolled in programs such as Student Credit (Fies).
Minister Genro advised that the project will “separate the wheat from the chaff,” compelling phony philanthropical universities to adapt themselves.
“Those institutions that are genuinely philanthropic will have an easy time adjusting, since they will not be making any sacrifices. But the bogus philanthropical ones will not make the adjustment, because they will have to be forthright and will have to change a lot of things,” the Minister said.
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