Frequently Asked Questions

Why a girls’ school?

Answer: 

Education provision in South Sudan is very poor and most girls drop out of school by the age of 10 to help full time with childcare and family chores; many are married by the time they are 12 or 13. “Girl-child education is seen as the hope for South Sudan as educating girls improves not only their life chances but their health and well-being and that of their families’. To understand how this works see here: www.thegirleffect.org 

Why a residential school?

Answer: 

Founder Bridget Nagomoro knows only too well the difficulties for a South Sudan girl to continue her education beyond the age of 10, due to cultural pressures from family and friends.  Getting to and from school can also be long, hard and hazardous.  Keeping the girls safe and nurtured in a residential environment ensures they can focus on their studies safely and without distractions. 

Does the conflict in South Sudan affect the school?

Answer: 

The school's catchment area of Amadi, Gbudwe and Maridi states (i.e. the former Western Equatoria State) is a very fertile area in the south west of South Sudan – 400 miles from disputed oil-producing areas at the northern borders of the country. The Zande people who form the majority in former WES are committed to sustainable development based on agriculture and forestry. The State government and church leaders are actively committed to peacemaking, and see education as part of this process. 

Mercifully, Ibba County has been free of any conflict so far. However, security is the highest priority in the school and we have detailed, regularly rehearsed contingency plans in place to protect students and staff should any emergency arise.

Does the local community support the School?

Answer: 

Absolutely. In addition to the 73 acres of land donated to the school by local people, the school is overseen by a group of South Sudan Trustees and a Board of Governors in Ibba who work closely with the UK Trustees. State and local government is fully behind the school, as are all the local churches.  There is huge enthusiasm for the school – as seen when 600 people came to celebrate the opening in June 2014. What they lack is money: that’s where FIGS comes in. 

Why are the costs so high?

Answer: 

Simply because access to Ibba, located in the former Western Equatoria State, is so difficult.  It is 10 hours from Juba by road and the journey is hazardous in many ways. There is only a small airstrip in Ibba itself.  Although local labour and resources are used wherever possible, any materials that have to be brought in become very expensive when the costs of diesel and logistics are factored in. For example a bag of concrete costs $10 when bought in Kampala in neighboring Uganda, but by the time it arrives in Ibba it has cost $100.

Why does the school currently have only 130 pupils?

Answer: 

The UK-registered charity Friends of Ibba Girls School raised funds to open the school in 2014, and took the decision to start small and build up steadily over 9 years, adding a new year group in Primary 4 annually until the school reaches its full capacity of 360 pupils. So in the school's fourth year of operating, there are now 4 classes of up to 40 girl students each, spanning Primary 4 to 7. Although 160 girls have places at the school, not all of them have been able to get there. For some this is because the journey from their home village is too dangerous to make. For others, their families cannot afford the school fees of SSP500 a year (about £4) and the travel to and from the school each term.

How are girls selected for the school?

Answer: 

The school serves the needs not only of Ibba County (allocated 22 places per year) but the whole of Amadi, Gbudwe and Maridi states (i.e. the former Western Equatoria State), with the other 9 Counties allocated 2 places each per year. There is no shortage of girls who want to come to the school! But to ensure fair access for all, whatever their background, the school's Senior Management Team and classroom teachers undertake an annual recruitment exercise, publicised in advance, where they traverse the catchment area to talk about Ibba Girls Boarding School and interview potential students. School staff also work with local primary schools to identify girls who have the potential to benefit from the school, who are then invited to apply. The school's policy of "excellence not elitism" means that girls are selected for aptitude and attitude, as well as evidence of parental support, without regard to any student's ability to pay.

Where will the girls go after they finish at the School?

Answer: 

When the girls complete their education in Senior 4 grade, they will be equipped and qualified to apply to go on to higher education at university or college – or to further professional or vocational training as teachers, lawyers, doctors, engineers, or leadership roles in government, the churches or the wider community. 

Are the teachers local?

Answer: 

The school is committed to recruiting and developing teachers from South Sudan or East Africa. FIGS and IGBS are working jointly together in the development of the school over the next 10 to 20 years, aiming to blend the best of African and of Western approaches to education.  This involves volunteer teachers coming to Ibba to work shoulder-to-shoulder alongside the African staff to offer mentoring and capacity building.

Currently the school's Headteacher is Richard Aluma, who is South Sudanese, and the Director of Studies is Vicky Dratia, who is Ugandan. Both are highly qualified, experienced, and dedicated. One of the teachers, Yoane Kumbonyaki, escaped the civil war on foot and did his schooling outside South Sudan, but returned to teacher training in Yambio, in order to help his new country forge its way in the world. For more details, do visit our School Staff page.

Can I help fundraise?

Answer: 

Yes please – there are lots of ways you can help, by giving a one off donation, giving a monthly amount and also running a fundraising event. Go to the Pencil Power page for more ideas. 

Do you need stuff?

Answer: 

Because of the logistics and weight limits involved with getting things to South Sudan we can’t take much with us. But we’d love you to turn it into cash at a car boot sale or similar and send it to us so we can use it where it is needed.

Is the school free to attend?

Answer: 

IGBS aims to provide access to all with the thirst and potential to learn, whatever their background, status or finances. FIGS aims to raise UK sponsorship for all students, for the duration of their time at the school. In addition, all families are asked to make a small contribution to the costs of their daughters schooling, in cash or kind. No student will be prevented from coming to the school because of lack of income.

Why do Ibba School girls wear their hair shaved so short?

Answer: 

In South Sudanese culture shaved hair is a symbol of dedication to education and learning, rather than adornment for courtship and early marriage. Short hair is seen as hygienic and less time consuming than ornate braids.


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