Senate approves affirmative action law for universities

The Brazilian Senate has approved a bill that reserves half of the places in the country's prestigious federal universities for state school students, reports the BBC. African-Brazilian Senator Paulo Paim said most Brazilians would benefit as only 10% of students graduated from private schools.

President Dilma Rousseff is now expected to sign the bill into law. But the measure has attracted criticism, as it also sets up quotas based on racial background. The reserved spots will be distributed among black, mixed race and indigenous students according to the racial make-up of each Brazilian state.

The racial quotas will be discontinued in 10 years. Brazil has the biggest black population anywhere outside of Nigeria, but private schools are still predominantly white. Private school students are usually better prepared than pupils from the public school system for the tough university entrance exams. They get most of the places in federal universities, which paradoxically are heavily subsidised and virtually free of charge.
Full report on the BBC site