Note from BW of Brazil: With the first round of elections for president of Brazil now being narrowed down to just two, the incumbent Dilma Rousseff of the PT (Workers’ Party) and Aécio Neves of the PSDB, Brazilians will have a choice between maintaining the current path of the country in 12 years of the Workers Party, 8 with Lula da Silva and 4 with Rousseff, or choosing a new direction with Neves. With Neves currently polling ahead of Rousseff, we can expect that the PT will surely step up their commercials reminding those who have benefited most from their time in power exactly what has been accomplished. This will apply particularly to poor and Afro-Brazilians who, due to PT policies, gained greater access to middle class status and college educations. Even with the possibility of electing the country’s first black president in the candidacy of the PSB’s Marina Silva, black Brazilians threw their support behind the party that granted them access to better lifestyles than previous administrations. This is clearly an easy choice in Rousseff in comparison to Neves, who many see as a representation of a return to previous conditions.
When we consider that Neves has already stated that he would support implementing an increasing militarization of neighborhoods throughout Brazil, similar to the special Military Police UPP units who have a reputation for killing Afro-Brazilians in Rio de Janeiro where these types of units maintain a presence in full military gear. Representatives from Neves’s camp have also voiced support for the privatization of Brazil’s universities, another move which would directly affect Afro-Brazilians. Needless to say, privatization of the nation’s universities would make success stories, such as the one featured below, more difficult to attain. As such, for those who want to keep the door open to more social advances, the choice won’t be difficult.
“We saw three, four generations working in the same family as maids. Now we don’t have this anymore. My daughters are in college”
Courtesy of the Instituto Lula
“Ten years ago, a maid, a bricklayer or a carpenter that came to a place and said that he had a son in college he was a laughingstock. Everyone laughed at them.” The statement is from Analice Oliveira Souza reflecting on the reality experienced by thousands of Brazilians in the not-so-distant past. Today, with the support of access to education and economic empowerment programs, the 46-year old maid, who didn’t finish elementary school can boast of having two of her daughters in college and a son working in one of the largest companies in the world, Petrobras.
Born in the Bahian municipality of Ipirá, Analice had a difficult childhood along with her parents and three siblings. The drought in the inland and the lack of employment forced the couple to move to Santos, on the coast of São Paulo, where she began working as a maid for 18 years. “Whoever speaks badly of the Bolsa Família program today it’s because you think that we have short memories and don’t remember the basic basket that they sent to us during the dry season. It was that rice with the husks and old beans that I didn’t even cook in the pan. It helps, the people who live in drought have this today,” she recalls.
With some stability in employment and some savings, she managed to buy a simple house in São Vicente (also in São Paulo state) and already married, three children came. Ricardo, the eldest, now 22, took technical courses in Senai and got a job in the boiler platform of Petrobras (1) in Porto Alegre (capital city of Rio Grande do Sul). “He is happy with his chosen profession and in a big, good company. Once a month he can come here to see the family. And he comes by plane because his conditions are much better today,” she says.
Vanessa, 20, is in the third year of law school at UNIP (2) in Santos with funding from Fies (3). “Imagine the joy of a mother to know that in two years she will have a lawyer daughter!”, she is keen to stress. Even Analice’s youngest daughter, Vitória, 17, finished high school in 2013 and her score from Enem (4), she won a place in the physiotherapy course at the Federal University of Santos through Sisu (5). “We saw three, four generations working in the same family as maids. Now we don’t have this anymore. My daughters are in college. Their friends earned scholarships from Prouni (6), my nieces were able to enter Pronatec (7).” She added: “I came from extreme poverty, but in two years I’ll have a lawyer daughter, and in four more, I’ll have a physiotherapist daughter. There is no government that has done more for people than Lula and Dilma. And now with two in college, even I am thinking of going back to school.”
Source: Instituto Lula
- Petróleo Brasileiro S.A. or Petrobras (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˌpɛtɾoˈbɾas]) is a semi-public Brazilian multinational energy corporation headquartered in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It is the largest company in the Southern Hemisphere by market capitalization and the largest in Latin America measured by 2011 revenues. Source
- Universidade Paulista (UNIP) is a private Brazilian university, headquartered in São Paulo, with units throughout the state and even in the states of Goiás, Amazon and also in Brasilia. It has more than 240,000 students. Altogether, the institution has 27 campuses, including 65 units. Source
- Fundo de Financiamento ao Estudante do Ensino Superior (Fies or Student Financial Fund of Higher Education) is a program of the Ministry of Education to finance the higher education of the undergraduate students enrolled in institutions that are not free. It can resort to financing students enrolled in higher education courses that have positive evaluation in proceedings conducted by the Ministry of Education. Source
- Exame Nacional do Ensino Médio (Enem) (English: High School National Exam) is a non-mandatory, standardized Brazilian national exam, which evaluates high school students in Brazil. The ENEM is the most important exam of its kind in Brazil, with more than 7.1 million registered candidates in 2013. Source
- The Sistema de Seleção Unificada (SiSU or Unified Selection System) is an online platform developed in 2009 by the Brazilian Ministry of Education used by students who took the Enem exam to enroll in higher education institutions that adhere fully or partially, with a certain percentage of their vacancies, to the Enem score as a form of entry, replacing the vestibular (entrance exam). Source
- The Programa Universidade para Todos (Prouni or University for All Program) is a program of the Federal Government of Brazil created with the objective of granting full and partial scholarships in undergraduate and sequential of specific training in private institutions of higher learning. It was created by Law No. 11.096, of January 13, 2005, when Tarso Genro was Minister of Education. Source
- The Programa Nacional de Acesso ao Ensino Técnico e Emprego (Pronatec or National Program of Access to Technical and Job Education) was created by the Federal Government of Brazil on October 26, 2011, with the enactment of Law No. 12.513/2011 by President Dilma Rousseff. The program aims to expand, internalize and democratize the offering of vocational and technological education for Brazilian students. Source