January is the height of summer in Brazil, and the holiday season. But for many?
January is the height of summer in Brazil, and the holiday season. But for many Brazilian students, it is a time when even football has to stop. Throughout Brazil, more than 250,000 students are taking their university entrance examinations. Because of a shortage of space, and for convenience, students in Rio de Janeiro must take their examinations in the Maracana Stadium -- the city's largest football ground.
For the most part, the students willingly forgo the summer pleasures of the beach and sportsfield. A university degree is still one of the best ways of self-improvement, and the entrance examinations are a critical turning-point in their lives.
Competition for university places is intense and the tests rigorous. Of the quarter-million students entering, only one-third gain places. In other popular disciplines such as medicine, only one-fifth of the students are successful.
Even with a vast expansion programme under way, Brazilian universities are likely to be overcrowded for many years. Half the population of Brazil is under 25 years old, and the number of university students will soon be increased from the present 700,000 to one million.
SYNOPSIS: For the inhabitants of the Brazilian capital of Rio de Janeiro, January means midsummer and the height of the holiday season.
Nearby Ipanema Beach is packed with relaxing citizens, many of them university students. There are seven-hundred-thousand undergraduates in Brazil, most of them assured of a comfortable future with their degrees. But for those who have not yet entered university, there is no time for lazing in the sun.
For them, January means not beach and sun, but university entrance examinations. These students have come to Rio de Janeiro's huge Maracana Stadium not to watch football, but to face perhaps the most critical test in their lives.
Every January, more than a quarter of a million students throughout Brazil attempt to gain coveted university places. Because of the shortage of space, public areas like the Maracana Stadium have to be used for the examinations. This brings its problems, such as the ever-present midsummer sun.
Despite the large numbers of candidates, cheating has not been a large problem. Supervisors keep a careful check on the students.
In any case, the students cannot afford to cheat. Being caught means disqualification, and a ruined career. Failing the examination can also mar a career, as university is still the best way of self- improvement in Brazil. The competition for university entrance is intense, and only one in three of these students will achieve places. In the more popular disciplines such as medicine, only one in five will have a chance of success.