Affirmative action public policies for indigenous people at the State University of Mato Grosso do Sul: the perspective of the implementers

Abstract To investigate the implementation of affirmative action public policies for indigenous students at the State University of Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil, interviews were conducted with deans, members of the committee for quota-recipient support, and program coordinators. Of the 856 indigenous students admitted from 2004 to 2014, only 10.86% graduated. This low rate might be associated with prejudice, poor mastery of formal Portuguese, or cultural barriers. The interviewees acknowledged the programs as elitist by reporting situations of intolerance/resistance, and scant efforts to address diversity and affirmative action measures. The respondents recognized that, albeit isolated, these efforts existed in the form of tutoring, group activities, elective courses, the creation of a study center, and the implementation of the extended education project Rede de Saberes [Knowledge Network]. Further advances are still needed, as are mechanisms capable of ensuring inclusion and the minimum conditions for academic permanence.