By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter

SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – More than eight million candidates signed up for Brazil’s National Secondary Education Examination (Enem) over the weekend but records show that only 5.8 million actually took the tests. This year’s thirty percent abstention rate was the highest since 2009, according to the National Institute of Educational Studies Teixeira (INEP), which administered the test throughout the country.

Brazil, São Paulo,Students in São Paulo arrive to take the Enem High School Exam
Students in São Paulo arrive to take the Enem High School Exam, photo by Rovena Rosa/Agência Brasil.

Despite the high abstention rate and the turbulence with school occupations by protesters, the Ministry of Education considered this year’s test a success “Considering the scenario we have had to deal with in recent days and weeks, I’d say the Enem 2016 was an absolute success,” said Minister of Education, José Mendonça Bezerra Filho. “We managed to get 97 percent of the candidates to participate in the Enem. Three percent will have to take the exam in December, which was the safest solution adopted by Ministry of Education (MEC),” he added.

According to MEC, over 271,000 candidates will have to take the national high school exam on December 3rd and 4th since their test locations were occupied by students protesting the government’s new education model and a bill which would limit government spending. The Ministry estimates that the postponement of the tests for these candidates to the beginning of December will cost approximately R$ 15 million.

This year federal police arrested eleven persons trying to cheat on the exam. According to officials, some test takers paid up to R$180,000 to obtain micro listening devices which would transmit to them the correct answers during the tests. The ENEM is accepted as the entrance exam to all federal universities in Brazil and as part of the entrance exam to many state and private institutions.


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