Equality through unequal measures? A study on how young inhabitants of Morro do Macaco perceive and experience the quota system at the university.
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Education is being seen as a fundamental human right. Yet, in the unequal Brazilian society many poor citizens don’t have access to quality basic education. The lack of quality basic education leads to less prospects in finding a quality job, less chance of entering higher education and diminishes the possibilities for further development in general. Therefore education is being seen as the key out of poverty and social exclusion. In order to create more equality and to give more citizens the opportunity to enter higher education the Brazilian government has decided to implement affirmative action on public universities. Public universities have to reserve a percentage of their posts (quotas) for students from disadvantaged groups. This thesis answers the question if the beneficiaries see the quota system as measure that reduces social exclusion within higher education and if and to what extend this affirmative action policy is a valid measure to reduce inequality and lift people out of poverty? This question is answered by young inhabitants of Morro do Macaco, since they are being seen as a disadvantaged group in society and therefore are relevant for the quota system. They state that the quota system does give them the opportunity to enter university, yet, the quota system will not be the answer on the long run. The answer is the improvement of the bad quality public basic education. This is according to my informants the core of the problem of poverty and exclusion.