Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Visitation of the Gods (Gilda Cordero Fernando) review

The short story is about the reality of the process of death of Filipino idealism in the administration of public schools. It shows the difficulties of sustaining one’s interest and motivation in improving the standards of education in the country. It highlights the visitation of the officers who act as assessors of the efficiency ratings of the teachers and the schools.
The setting is in the provinces where the bureaucracy in the education system is very evident. The importance of obtaining a high efficiency rating by the school, its faculty and students has compromised the principles of most of its administrators. It not only affects the efficiency of the schools and their faculty but it also contributes to the decline in the actual performance of students.
The story also shows how the activity can be turned into an opportunity to punish insubordination by assigning the most problematic and difficult tasks to the most “not-liked” teachers and students.
The story also exposes the Filipino’s mentality towards competition. Sometimes one’s pursuit for personal and professional growth can be mistaken a threat to another man’s job or authority. More likely, it would be interpreted as “showing-off”. Unfortunately, the conflict between different interests not only affects those involved but usually extends to all the faculty, which in turn causes polarization in the workplace.
A visitation announced a month in advance defeats the purpose for such an activity, as was clearly shown in the story. It gives the school administrators the opportunity to prepare and hide the infirmities of their respective schools. The results are usually not reflective of the true status and situation of the schools because only the good things are highlighted while the bad things are hidden. Sometimes overnight makeovers are resorted to so that there will be the appearance of compliance with the educational standards. The whole activity boils down to making an impression and satisfying a group of assessors, who are treated like gods by flattery and gift-giving.
The irony of this is that the death of idealism starts from the school, which is supposed to be its cradle. Students are exposed to the practice of conformism and favor-currying by their teachers. The school is supposed to protect the students from such corrupt practices.
Due to this kind of bureaucratic practice in the public schools, the standard of education is lowered. The true progress of our educational system can not be assessed. Teachers are not promoted based on efficiency, competence, professionalism and other criterion used in the merit system.
The story is a microcosm of the corruption existing in our country. Apparently, corruption is already in the grass roots. It would seem that the only way a person can climb the bureaucratic ladder is to allow himself to be eaten by the system. Good people in the government are usually punished for doing their jobs, while bad people are rewarded for doing things other than their jobs.
Indirectly, the story shows the direct proportionality between success in the government and the ability of one to compromise his principles, values and character. The more one compromises his principles, values and character, the more likely he will succeed.
Justice is indeed hard to find in the Philippines. Those who sacrifice and dedicate their lives for the good of the country usually end up getting nothing and having nothing. In the end, it’s always the children who will suffer. They are the ones who will taste the products of the mistakes of their fathers. Ironic though because fathers usually resort to these malpractices to ensure a good future for their children.