lectrifying election campaigns and colourful giant posters dangled from skyscrapers. Sonorous radio jingles and dramatized television adverts bombarded the airwaves prior to the elections in 2011. "A breath of Fresh air", "BB for Change," "New Nigeria" and so many other one- liners were delivered on brilliantly crafted manifestos. The New Year was also the beginning of second term in the academic calendar; a back to school kick off after the Christmas holiday. But in a dramatic twist, the anticipated school resumption was abruptly interrupted. Education and Politics clashed and a crisis unfolded on the pages of National Newspapers with no resolution in sight. "Empty Classrooms" echoed in most parts of the country and it was not because of a national teacher's strike. The education sector was the first casualty of the electoral process.
Uncertainty loomed as a result of the voter's registration exercise. Private and public schools, (From Primary to University), were mandated to shut down. Is Education a priority in the country? How would it affect the school calendar? Why are schools closed when bus stops, motor parks, markets, and under shady trees are being used as voter's registration centers? This school closure was a hot button discussion all over the country. Then five weeks after the initial resumption date, schools "officially" reopened. But the scars and impact of "Empty Classrooms" is not one that can be easily ignored.
"Empty Classrooms" is a syndrome that has eaten deeply into the life of the nation. In some states in the country, as testified by some National Youth Service members, teachers show up but they have no students yearning to learn. For the leaders of tomorrow, it is not a good habit to cultivate. Moreover, the constant interruption of the flow of education due to strikes or elections leads to a loss or lack of interest in pursuing and acquiring knowledge in our academic institutions. Students "crash" a course which should take five months, within a month! It produces substandard learning where students are not thoroughly prepared or are rushed through the academic system. In Universities, students graduate not having a full grasp of the profession which they have studied. In addition, they might have even lost the initial enthusiasm which led them to that profession, due to the prolonged academic calendar. So when higher institutions of learning are closed down...the "Empty Classroom" syndrome becomes the mirror of Education in the country and people begin to look elsewhere. Putting the educational system on hold due to political wrangling or strike is a waste of time and resources.
Consequently, the concept of "Brain Drain" is a brain child of Empty Classrooms! The overwhelming hunger for quality and uninterrupted education is populating other universities in the West and even in other African countries, with distinguished students from Nigeria. In fact, graduates from Nigerian Universities are quite disgruntled when their qualifications are seen as substandard compared to their Western counterparts. In order to plug themselves into the work place, there is a barrage of accreditations and certifications to "garnish" their degrees from Nigeria.
In the work place the "Empty Classroom" syndrome is also present. When corporate training is lacking in the lifelong goals of an organization, the employees are professionally stagnant. Corporate leaders place a value on employees when they invest and equip staff through continuous training; preparing them for new trends in their field and with tools to adapt to change. In addition, a review of relevant or dormant skill sets would also help to position each staff in their area of core competence. It also affirms the workforce and leads to confident and productive employees. "Empty Classrooms" is not limited to the mainstream educational environment. As you go to your workplace every day, you have to ask yourself, "Am I in a place of continuous learning?"
In conclusion, economic demands and the strains of raising a family have also allowed the "Empty Classroom" syndrome to infiltrate the home. "Train up a child in a way that he should go..." is a notable quotation from the Scriptures. But the changing economy is creating absentee "teachers" (Parents). The home is a classroom of life where children receive "training." But long work hours for both parents is robbing children of time with mum and dad. Parents are coaches and when they don't show up for training sessions they create emptiness in the life of the children. "Empty Classroom" Syndrome in the family is crucial because the home is the first school for children.