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Aims and Values

We see a once in a generation opportunity to make a practical difference to the education and life chances of girls in South Sudan and Western Equatoria State.

Ibba Girls School aims to provide high quality education for girls aged 10-18+ years. Rooted in Christian values, the school is open and welcoming to people of all faiths and none.

The school aims to educate and empower young women with the values, knowledge and skills for life and work, and for leadership in their local communities, and at all levels in this newest African nation.

To provide a safe, stimulating and supportive environment in which all young people have the freedom and the opportunities to fulfill their unique potential academically, physically, socially and spiritually through dedicated, innovative and enthusiastic teaching and learning.

The school focuses on girls only because few girls get the chance of education - the majority currently drop out around the age of 10. We aim to offer places to all girls who have the potential, whatever their background, status, or income.

To fulfill our aim of combining excellence with accessibility, the school is residential, allowing for girls from a wide catchment area to attend, and to study safely, shielded from domestic duties, early marriage and pregnancy.

We also aim to uplift the quality and performances of the feeder primary schools in the surrounding area by providing additional teachers, training and books; and also to support the existing literacy and adult education classes. We have already funded additional teachers in the main feeder schools.

In 2008 Professors John Benington and Jean Hartley (both then at Warwick University) were asked by the interim Government of South Sudan to go to Juba, the new capital, to run a series of workshops on public management for newly appointed Government officials.

Bridget Nagomoro was one of these officials, then working in the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry. 

Sitting beside the Nile, she told John about a dream she had had, calling her to set up a boarding school for girls in Ibba, the village in which she had been born and brought up – and where at the time she was the only girl to get schooling beyond the age of 10 years (eventually going on to get a University degree).

She asked John to help make her vision real, by developing a detailed plan, and helping to raise the finance needed.

Since then John has frequently visited Ibba with architect Malcolm Worby and others from the UK, helping Bridget and other local community leaders to develop their plan and to build a girls residential school to serve the needs of girls in Ibba County and Western Equatoria State.

Bridget gave up her job in the national government in Juba to return to Ibba County as local Government Commissioner so that she could be actively involved in developing the school. She has mobilized active support for her vision from a wide network of people, from local chiefs and churches, and the government of Ibba County, Western Equatoria State and South Sudan.

She donated a large plot of family land on which to build the school and also inspired Severio, another village chief, to give an adjacent plot of land - making a total of 73 acres available for the school.

In 2011, Friends of Ibba Girls’ School was registered as a UK charity, to support the design, building and development of the school with funding and professional/technical advice (e.g. architecture, design and financial management).

In 2013, Ibba Girls Boarding School was registered under South Sudan law, with its own body of South Sudan Trustees and Board of Governors (on which the UK Trustees are represented).

In March 2014, the school was opened to its first 40 ten year old girls and marked this achievement with an official Opening Ceremony in June.

Click on the button above to read Bridget Nagomoro’s Opening Ceremony speech.

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The Future

The Year Ahead – Preparing for Year 2

After 6 years of planning, fundraising and preparation, we are proud to have opened Ibba Girls School in March 2014 - Up and running sounds too casual, with the first classrooms, dormitories and other basic facilities in place, the first teaching staff appointed, and 40 ten year old girls from Ibba County and Western Equatoria State starting their 9 years of schooling.

This is a wonderful beginning, but we need to raise sufficient capital and revenue funding to provide another 40 girls with the chance to learn.

To achieve this we need:

  • To build the extra dormitory block, kitchen and teachers’ block to accommodate the additional 40 girls who we hope will join the school in Feb 2015
  • To cover the teaching and operational costs of running the expanded school with 80 girls

In parallel with this fund-raising we need to build the capacity of the school as an organization, strengthening its governance, leadership and management.

Medium term: 2 - 9 years - Completing the School

Our medium term policy from 2014 - 2022 is to complete the building and staffing of the school step by step, to cater for 8 further annual intakes of 40 ten year old girls, until the first cohort has completed 9 years of schooling and the school has reached its planned complement of 360 girls.

This period will also be crucial for establishing and embedding the ethos, culture and standards of the school.

Long Term: 10 to 20 years - Sustaining the School

Our longer-term plan from 2022 - 2030 is that Ibba Girls School will move progressively towards financial and organisational sustainability. The South Sudanese Trustees and Board of Governors will gradually take on responsibility for raising up to 80% of the funding for the school. FIGS funding will taper down in planned stages from 100% to perhaps 20%.

Consideration will also be given during this phase to expanding the school to 640 pupils (two intakes of 40 ten year girls per year).

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Why a girls school?


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:

Why a residential school?


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?


Western Equatoria State is a very fertile area in the south west of South Sudan – 400 miles away from the disputed oil producing areas at the northern borders of the country. The Zande people who form the majority in WES are committed to sustainable development based on agriculture and forestry. The State government and church leaders are actively committed to peace making, and see education as part of this. 

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

Does the Local Community Support the School?


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 witnessed by the 600 or so who 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?


Simply because access to Ibba; a 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 120 pupils?

The UK-registered charity Friends of Ibba Girls School has raised the money 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 third year of operating, there are now 3 classes of 40 girl students each, spanning Primary 4 to 6. Fundraising is designed to ensure that 40 more girls can come every year. So each year we need to raise a further £350,000 to add new classrooms, dormitory blocks, staff accommodation, infrastructure and staff for the next intake."

How are girls selected for the school?


The school serves the needs not only of Ibba County (allocated 22 places per year) but the whole of Western Equatoria State (the other 9 Counties have 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, FIGS funds two outreach teaching assistants who work with the regional primary schools to identify girls who have the potential to benefit from the school. They are invited to apply, and then invited for interview before being offered a place. 

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


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?


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 co-headship role is shared between Betty Dure Aringu, an experienced South Sudanese teacher, and Paula Sgherza, an experienced head teacher from Australia. One of the other 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.

Can I help fundraise?


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?


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?


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?


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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