In Brazil’s medical school programs, blacks are only 2.7% of the students; they represent only 4.56% of graduates in ten prestigious majors

Black doctors like Dulce de Brito, Eduardo Ferreira, Iv an Ribeiro and Telma Nery are still vastly under-represented in the medical field
Black doctors like Dulce de Brito, Eduardo Ferreira, Ivan Ribeiro and Telma Nery are still vastly under-represented in the medical field

Note from BW of Brazil: With the recent arrival of Cuban and other non-Brazilian physicians to Brazil to increase the presence of qualified doctors in areas with few or no doctors, it is interesting to note that some view the reactions to the foreign doctors as having a racist tone to them (see articles here). With this in mind, this article takes into consideration the percentages of Afro-Brazilians studying in prestigious majors in the country’s universities. Not surprisingly, their presence in these areas is as little as in other genres in Brazilian society. 

In medical school, only 2.7 % of students are black

by Cristiane Capuchin

In ten university majors, blacks only represent 4.56% of graduates in 2009 and 2010
In ten university majors, blacks only represent 4.56% of graduates in 2009 and 2010

Although they form 50.7% of the Brazilian population, self-identified blacks are still the minority of graduates in higher education. In a medical career, only 2.66% of graduates in 2010 were pardo or preto (the two representing the Afro-Brazilian population). The study was done by Inep (Instituto Nacional de Estudos e Pesquisas Educacionais or National Institute for Educational Research), at the request of UOL, with the information of the students who took the Enade exam.

Of college students who took the Enade (Exame Nacional de Desempenho de Estudantes or National Student Performance Examination) in 2010, only 6.13% declared themselves preto or pardo. In 2009, the rate was even lower: 5.41%.

Percentage of pretos and pardos among graduates

Medical 2.66%

Design 3.58%

Dentistry 3.8 %

Veterinary Medicine 4.26 %

Pharmacy 5.02 %

Law 5.03 %

Social Communication 5.11%

Administration 5.26 %

Psychology 5.38 %

Economics 5.5%

Average in ten fields: 4.56%

• Source: Data from 2009 and 2010 Enade; Inep

In 2010, only 16,418 graduating students who took the Enade declared themselves as black, of a total of 267,823 students. In 2009, there were 35,958 black graduating students of 663,943 students who took the exam.

Black students still encounter many obstacles in pursuit of a college education
Black students still encounter many obstacles in pursuit of a college education

“We still have black victims of social situations that are a historic result of slavery. Of our excluded, blacks are the ones that need extra support from the society,” says Luiz Cláudio Costa, president of Inep .

The small presence of black students in higher education is the result of different gargalos (bottlenecks or location of the problem), ranging from material exclusion, going through the poor quality of public education and coming to self-exclusion.

“The percentage of black students who finish high school is far below the rate of whites. Exclusion comes long before higher education,” says anthropologist Jocélio Teles, a professor at UFBA (Universidade Federal da Bahia or the Federal University of Bahia).

For him, the internalization process of exclusion that leads the student to not see the university as a possible path for him/her also can’t be also discarded. “It comes to the point of possible students not even enrolling for the vestibular (college entrance exam),” he points out.

The internalization of exclusion sometimes leads to self-exclusion
The internalization of exclusion sometimes leads to self-exclusion

According to Teles, a study done in 2000 showed that the majority of students from prestigious courses such as medicine or dentistry in public universities had parents with incomplete or complete higher education.


When analyzing student performance in the national examination, black students have scores 1.7 % less than non-black students. “The performance is very close, showing that they overcome the difficulties they had in elementary education with dedication,” believes Luiz Cláudio.

According to the president of Inep, the difference between black and non-black students is higher in basic education, but has declined. “This is explained by a number of reasons. There is a strong correlation between black students and public school. Sometimes education is of poor quality, there exists an age gap discrepancy and often this student has to work and go to school,” cites the president of Inep.

In the case of public universities that adopt quotas, anthropologist Jocélio Teles points out that it takes a parallel work of the institution so that the student can completely overcome the differences in relation to students of good private schools.

“What universities need to think about, and it seems that few do, is what is called the permanence of the students. They need to take language courses, there is a monitoring program and tutoring for these students,” says Teles.


The 2010 Census showed that of the population within the age range of 15 to 24, 31.1% of white Brazilians attend college. Among the preto and pardo population, the rates are much lower: 13.4% and 12.8 %, respectively.

In 2012 the Quota Law was signed, which created 50% reservation of vacancies in federal universities for public school students starting in 2016. In response to requests for affirmative racial policies, distribution of vacancies will take place in a manner equivalent to the demographic representation of the races in the state.

For the anthropologist, the Quota Law does not solve the problem of access for blacks in higher education, it only democratizes entry into public universities. “We are still talking of selecting a small number of students who have the conditions to go to college. There are many more students in public school than these available vacancies.”

Source: UOL

About Marques Travae 3747 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

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