SAO PAULO: Brazil’s prestigious University of Campinas on Sunday organised its first entry exams reserved for members of indigenous tribes, with 610 people vying for 72 spots.

The applicants for the five-hour tests included native Brazilians from 13 states, 350 of them from Sao Gabriel da Cachoeira, a city of 44,000 on the northern tip of the Amazonas state.

Last week, university staff traveled 3,500 kilometres to administer the test in that municipality, where 76 per cent of the inhabitants are from indigenous tribes.

“The number of registrants surprised us,” said Jose Alves de Freitas Neto, the exam’s coordinator, on the university’s website.

“They showed a great interest for courses in the fields of health and humanities, management and education,” he added.

A 2017 Justice Ministry report showed that the number of indigenous people enrolled in Brazilian universities increased by 52.5pc from 2015 to 2016, from 32,147 to 49,026, thanks to quota systems.

According to official figures, some 800,000 Indians from 305 ethnic groups live in Brazil, a country of 209 million people.

Published in Dawn, December 3rd, 2018