Brazil’s Minister of Education, Tarso Genro, and the United States Ambassador to Brazil, John Danilovich, met yesterday to discuss the revitalization of cooperation between the two countries.
At the meeting Genro presented the main items of interest to Brazil in such a partnership, such as the exchange of experiences in the area of affirmative action, adopted more than 40 years ago in the US, and Portuguese language and Brazilian culture instruction for Brazilians who live in that country.
The last time the two countries met to discuss this theme was in March, 2002, five years after the signing of an agreement.
The head of the Minister’s international advisory staff, Alessandro Warley Candeas, said that Brazil will not copy the American model of quotas, since racial realities are different in the two countries.
“It is important to learn about the American experience in this area, understand how the situation evolved there, and see how it might evolve in Brazil. Our reality is different from the American one. Here the population is ethnically mixed; there the debate is about racial tolerance,” he observed.
Candeas recalled that, thanks to the system adopted in the US, there is now a generation of blacks who had access to higher education, which multiplied their participation in decision-making posts.
“They were benefitted directly by the affirmative active programs established in the ’60’s and ’70’s.”
The program was so efficacious, he added, that the discussion there nowadays is whether it is worthwhile to maintain the quota system, since the goal was achieved. “Brazil is at the start of this process.”
Portuguese language instruction for Brazilians and Americans, for its part, should follow the Open School model, functioning on weekends in public places to disseminate Brazilian culture.
The project, Candeas explained, willl receive backing from the UNESCO (United Nations Education, Science, and Culture Organization) and the collaboration of firms and non-governmental organizations.
The cultural attaché of the US Embassy, Caryn Danz, recalled that her country has various partnerships with Brazil. She mentioned the Young Ambassador program, aimed at public secondary school students.
The youngsters, who are selected through a competitive process, spend two weeks in the United States – one in Washington and another with a family -, and, in four years, 52 students have already partaken of the program.
According to the Brazilian international adviser, approximately one million Brazilians study in the United States, 7 thousand of them at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels.
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