With the pandemic, the National Secondary Education Examination (Enem) recorded in 2021 the lowest number of applicants since 2007. In addition to this drop in the absolute total of candidates, there was also a more accentuated reduction in the participation of blacks, browns and indigenous people, compared to the last edition of the test.
The conclusion is a survey by the Union of Higher Education Supporters (Semesp), made at the request of Globonews, based on microdata from Enem 2021 subscribers.
Number of Enem subscribers dropped in 2021 — Photo: Arte/G1
In the 2020 edition, there were approximately 2.7 million brown students – this year, there were 1.3 million (a reduction of 51.7%). The fall was also above 50% among blacks (53.1%) and indigenous people (54.8%). On the other hand, considering white candidates, the decrease was more subtle: 35.8%.
Proportion of candidates by race each year
The survey also analyzes the percentages of candidates registered each year, by race.
In 2020, 63.2% of students were black, brown, yellow or indigenous. This year, they represent a smaller share of the total: 56.4%.
Whites, on the other hand, became more representative: they jumped from 34.7% in 2020 to 41.5% in 2021.
The classification is based on the students’ optional self-declaration at the time of registration.
Participation by race in Enem 2021 — Photo: G1
Less diversity and inclusion
According to Semesp, the drop represents a setback in relation to the inclusion and diversity of students in higher education, since Enem is the biggest gateway to public universities in the country.
For sociologist Márcia Lima, professor at USP and coordinator of the Center for Research and Training in Race, Gender and Racial Justice at the Brazilian Center for Analysis and Planning (Cebrap), the number of Enem subscribers was already falling, but from 2020 to 2021, the drop was “very impactful”.
“This young man may have had difficulty preparing himself [para o Enem] because of the connection and structure of the household, and also because it was impacted by the deaths in the family,” he says. “Depending on who left, we have more difficulty reorganizing this family so that it can invest in their children’s higher education.”
According to Lima, there is an obstacle for these young people not only to participate in the selection process, but also to think about the future.
The executive director of Todos pela Educação, Olavo Nogueira Filho, opines that the drop rate of brown, black, indigenous and yellow enrollments in Enem 2021 is another example of inequality in the country.
“Evidence has so far shown that, from nursery school to high school completion, there are different trajectories in racial comparison, the result of unequal opportunities. Without forgetting the manifestation of structural racism before, during and after the school phase.”
For him, it is the role of education to reverse this situation through educational policies that promote equity in education.
“There is no other way: it is up to education to play the role of equaling everyone’s chances of having access to the best opportunities. Public investment must focus on those who need it most,” he adds.
Enem 2021 has 77% drop in applicants who need exemption