White private school students have advantage in national performance exams

Afro Brazilians


Compared with blacks from public schools, their scores are 25% better
by Lorena Caliman of Rede Bahia

A report of performance data in the National Secondary Education Examination (Exame Nacional do Ensino Médio or Enem) from 2010 in Brazilian capital cities shows a large gap between the average scores of white students from private high schools and black students from public high schools. The new figures also include comparative data between the two networks without the racial profile and confirm regional differences.

The data show that the scores achieved by white students in private schools are on average 21% higher than those of blacks from the public school network in the country. In general comparison between students of the two networks, regardless of skin color, the difference was smaller: the scores of students from private schools were 17% higher.

Although to a lesser extent, the variation in performance between blacks and whites in public schools is also disadvantageous for the first group. On average, whites have average 3% higher than blacks.

Public school students Luana Miranda e Inaiá Regina

Despite having one of the highest proportions of African descent among the capital cities, Salvador recorded the second largest difference between the average of white students from private schools and black students from public schools, second only to Vitória, the capital city of the southeastern state, Espírito Santo.

The capital of Espírito Santo averaged 502.59 in objective tests (not including writing) of black students, the sixth largest among capitals. But in comparison with white students in private schools, the difference is the greatest of all: whites of the private school network score on average 27% higher than the average of the black students in public schools. In the state, there are also differences between blacks and whites of similar networks.

In Salvador, despite the massive participation of black students in public schools, the difference of scores for white private school students comes to 25%. The study also showed significant differences in regional performances. For example, the black student in the city of Belo Horizonte (capital city of southeastern state Minas Gerais) studying in public schools has scores that are 12% higher than black students of the public school network in Manaus (capital of the northern state of Amazonas). The two cities have the extremes of this group’s scores: 521.03 and 463.85, respectively.


Teachers from Bahia assessed the differences between groups of students to be a result of school infrastructure, quality of teaching and students’ own family structure.

For teacher of Portuguese, Zenaide Barbosa Ribeiro, 55, of the state teaching network, student performance reflects the decline of quality in education in recent years. “In Bahia, we have a majority black population, and the majority of blacks are in the public education (system). The quality of education has been falling in recent years. Today, 30% of students graduate without knowing how to write well, read or analyze complex texts. If it’s like this at the high school level, imagine (how it is) in basic education”, she opined.

For her, the structure of private schools also influences the outcome of the exam. “In private schools there is higher quality, a better structure. If the person has (even) a minimum (financial) situation, he/she puts his/her child in a private school. What we have in public schools are low-income children, young people often don’t read, and are not pushed by their parents to study”, she says.

On the difference within the public school network between the scores of black students and white, she cites the economic issue. “At the high school where I work, the number of white students that we have is made up of the discharged students from private schools that had financial problems. So, even being in the public school, the parents go to school, and push them more”, she reflected.

Teaching in private schools in Salvador, Physics teacher Marcelo San Geovanni, 37, believes there is a general lack of motivation among students and teachers in the state school network.

“Here in Bahia, the feeling is that no one is motivated. Students don’t push themselves to seek something better, teachers relax at work. That passion for teaching does not exist in most teachers of the public school network. And this I still see in private schools.” He also sees in the economic context the most important fact in the disparity between white and black students. “Here in Salvador the poorer (economic) class is predominantly black, it’s an economic issue”, he says.

Ana Maria Rocha, 54, has been a public school teacher for almost 30 years, and sees the historical economic and social development of pupils as the biggest influence in Enem performance scores. “We know that a person with dark skin historically was the poorest. All these influences, from food, access to books. Generally the parents of these black children already come from an economic and social history of a lack of access to these elements”, she says.

For Ana Maria, the policy of quotas for black students in public schools has played an important role in the process of change. “The tendency is that we see a certain improvement. In a way there is already a minority that is having access to college. But that is not the solution, because with time things will only change if there is improvement in the public education”, she pointed out.

Source: Correio 24 Horas

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

1 Comment

  1. First off, ANY students from public schools will be less advantage. Second to say only blacks from public scholls will have lower advantages than whites only because their color(black or pardo) is in itself an racist tough.

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