Private school students in the state of Sergipe march against affirmative action
On the afternoon of Saturday, September 22, in the capital of Sergipe (northeastern Brazil) between the upper crust avenues that connect the Rio Mar Malls to the Jardins Mall, a student protest which had as its aim the cancellation of the 50% quota law for blacks, Indians or people from public high schools to enter public universities.
The action involved more than 500 students from the most traditional private schools of the city, with the idea of mobilization being organized by student Daniel Franco. In an interview given to the site Ifonet, “two months ago we began to mobilize against this way the Government is treating education,” he says.
In addition to the common environment of study among these youth, other points connected to the students who gave body to act: the majority of the youth were white, and most of them enjoy the privilege of living in the most elite neighborhoods of Sergipe’s capital city.
Sign: “In order that we attain quality education equality”
Protests like this one in the city of Aracaju have became commonplace in the country whose population is 51% black, according to the data of 2012 offered by the website of the Secretariat of Strategic Affairs. Although quantitatively blacks are the majority in Brazil, this numerical superiority, unfortunately, doesn’t translate into positive responses with regard to democratic access to information, housing, health and education among other public policies. This protest follows other recent protests we featured here at BW of Brazil in the ongoing debate over the system of quotas.
To get an idea of the disparity regarding the conditions to reach parity with certain material and symbolic goods between the white and black population in Brazil, in the XXI century, only 20% of Afro-Brazilians earn more than 10 times the minimum wage*, i.e. within the logic of privatization of the education base, a small portion of the black population enjoys the privilege of having their children in private schools.
The false equation of racial democracy, doesn’t limit itself only to the question of the labor market. In the field of Education, a central theme of the protest made by young students of Aracaju, 13% of the black population from 15 years and up are still illiterate, these data achieved by research conducted by Brazil’s only black university, the University of Zumbi dos Palmares (Unipalmares).
In Sergipe, the public basic education system doesn’t escape the precarious reality faced by other states of Brazil. And it is clear, that this reality has an influence from the moment that students coming from these schools try to compete for a place in undergraduate programs of the Federal University of Sergipe.
Faced with this action that occurred against quotas, Henry Maynart, freelancer in the field of journalism, opined “the quota system demands a historical debt to the poor, black population of this country, and still it’s not enough.” He continued, “currently, higher education is going through a process in which students mobilized not in order to stand against the democratization of access to universities, but in support of a model of free, quality public education,” he emphasized.
From this mobilization held a few Saturdays ago against the quota system adopted in UFS since 2010, what Sergipe’s population witnessed so blatantly was just how much the bourgeois elite of the region is against the inclusion of the black, indigenous and poor population within these spaces that historically were configured as privileges to whites of European descent. Thus, actions like this return society back to the year 1838, when then-governor of the province prohibited by law that carriers of contagious diseases and African slaves could not attend public schools.
* – Currently, the minimum salary in Brazil is R$622 (US$311) per month