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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, specifically within the school's catchment area of the former Western Equatoria State.

Ibba Girls Boarding 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, work, and 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 so few get the chance of education - about half currently drop out around the age of 10, with many more following suit in subsequent years. 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 (about the size of Scotland) to attend, and to study safely, shielded from onerous domestic duties, and 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 available. 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 the area of the former 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 mobilized active support for her vision from a wide network of people, from local chiefs and churches, and the government of Ibba County, the then 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.

Interactive Map

The Future

The Year Ahead – Preparing for Year 5

After 6 years of planning, fundraising and preparation, we proudly opened Ibba Girls School in March 2014 - 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 the former Western Equatoria State starting their 9 years of schooling.

Since 2014, another 3 cohorts of girls have joined the school, so that it now spans Primary Levels 4 to 7, with 130 girl students in total living and learning at Ibba with great enthusiasm.

This is a wonderful beginning, but now we need to raise sufficient funding so that in 2018 every current student can continue her education - including the first 40 girls who will then complete Primary School - and another 40 new girls can enrol, receiving the priceless opportunity to learn.


Year 5 - key aims

So for Year 5 in 2018, we need:

  • To feed 200 girl students and 40 staff for three school terms in 2018, so that the residential school continues its perfect track record of not missing a single day of teaching since 2014
  • To staff the growing school with enough trained teachers, caring matrons, cooks and cleaners, and diligent security groundsmen - both keeping the 200 girls safe, healthy and focused on learning, as well as creating local employment
  • To upgrade some of the school's security features, so as to maintain a safe environment for learning in the current South Sudanese context

In parallel with our fundraising efforts, we need to build the capacity of the school as an organization, strengthening its governance, leadership and management.

Medium term (until 2022) -- Completing the School

Our medium term aim is to complete the building and staffing of the school step by step, to cater for 5 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 is also crucial for establishing and embedding the ethos, culture and standards of the school.

Long Term (5 to 20 years' time) - Sustaining the School

Our longer-term plan from 2022 - 2030 is that Ibba Girls Boarding 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?


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?


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?


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?

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?


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?


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 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?


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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