Friday, August 24, 2012

Cry a Bucket with Small Voices

A sweet tug at your heartstrings.
One must really watch this 
critically acclaimed film.

A roll of tissue paper, please!

And hey, I really mean it this time when I say my heart really sank down and I held my tears back before anyone would notice it. The film, which has the original title Mga Munting Tinig, translated as Small Voices, clearly depicted the bare bones of the different facets of our educational system and exposed the grim realities that presently confront it through the eyes of a young, courageous and dedicated teacher.

The synopsis went that Melinda (played by Alessandra de Rossi) was a new substitute teacher in that rural elementary school in a far flung area. A young university graduate, her family expected her to look for work abroad, but in her idealism she took on a challenging job in the provincial public school, which lacked resources and had corrupt personnel.

One of the critical issues showed in the film is the notion that those who are apt to become teachers are those who are "below the average" in terms of mental capacity. This is an unfair notion still held by many even until now but is justified by the presence of incompetent teachers in the academe. Which leads me to wonder: What can one teach if he does not even know it? Among other issues are the unresponsiveness of school principal in actualizing activities that can further enrich the experiences of the teachers talents of the students, and abuse of a teacher of the authority vested upon her that should have been put in good use in the first place.

The film also showed several problems in parental involvement in the education of the children, which is also a real situation today. The common mentality among parents that you-are-just-a-girl and that to-be-able-to-read-and-write-is-enough are not only hindrances to the dreaming youths to become professionals but also barriers in the national goal to achieve a full cycle of basic education among the citizens. This leads to the wrong belief of the children that only those who are well off in life has the right to dream big dreams. The youths, as was illustrated in the film, were commonly forced by their parents to take absences from class so that they could assist during harvest season in the farm or simply so that they could help at home. The message is clear that by force or circumstance, many school aged children in the country are victims of child labor.

School related issues showed in the film reflect the incapacity of the government to provide facilities and resources in its educational system. Insufficient books shared by students and unfavorable classroom settings are nothing less than the bare reality so true today. Furthermore, a community problem in the film that is true to many war torn areas in the country is the social unrest which took away the lives of rebels who are also parents of the children in the film, and took away even lives of the innocent children, leaving the bereaved families of the community fatherless or broken.

However, one of the good sides that the film showed is the call of challenge to each and every educator - both aspiring and expiring! Melinda showed great qualities that are worth emulating for. She used her talent to discover potentials among her students. She shared her belief to her students that everyone can be a dreamer, thereby motivating the young ones to aspire and survive. She was a persistent teacher for despite all the hurdles that came along her way, she took the courage to draw the participation of principal and parents in realizing their dreams.

As a whole, I must say that this is a film that everyone must watch for. I hope that this is a wake up call to everyone as it is to me. Education is a social responsibility of parents, teachers, administrators, community stakeholders, political leaders and every ordinary citizen of this country. There is indeed a wisdom in the saying: It takes a village to raise a child.

Another roll of tissue paper, please!

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