IGBS is now in its sixth year, and the year began in early February with the opening of its first secondary school class and the news that it is the highest-achieving school in South Sudan! The new Senior 1 class sat the national Primary Certificate exams in November (somewhere between SATs and GCSEs in the English & Welsh system) and was the only school in the country with a 100% pass rate. Not only that, but the top 6 scorers in the country were all from Ibba Girls’ Boarding School. Congratulations!
End-of-term exams have gone well and gave the new Primary 4 cohort the opportunity to demonstrate excellent improvement especially in English, and the school is now preparing for a two-week holiday before the second term gets underway. Not all girls are able to return to their families because of the challenges of travelling around South Sudan, and it is wonderful that the friendships which they form at school mean that those whose immediate families live too far away can stay with their friends and relatives in Ibba during this short holiday.
The school has appointed four new secondary teachers, and a fifth, Mr Mark Irra will join when Term 2 starts at the end of May after the sad resignation on health grounds of the dynamic and popular Maths and Science teacher Mr James Dumba. New support staff have also been welcomed to the school. All teaching staff attended a two-day training workshop on the new South Sudan Curriculum for Primary 5, Primary 7 and Senior 1, which focused on child-centred teaching approaches. The new curriculum is due to come into effect in June and although new textbooks have yet to be distributed by the government, the school and FIGS continue to liaise with state authorities to get advance copies.
Staff have also had training this term from two FIGS volunteers, Professors Margaret Eddershaw and Keith Sturgess, who as always included staff from other local schools in their workshops. These focused public speaking and drama and on reading – a particular challenge for every new Primary 4 class given the widespread illiteracy and lack of books. Not only does this enhance the quality of the school’s core teaching and co-curricular offer, it is also excellent preparation for the lives in public service to which the girls aspire. Margaret and Keith also introduced chess and dominos to the school. Football, netball, volleyball and badminton remain firm favourites for the girls’ sports, and FIGS continues to look for funding to develop sporting facilities at the school and to encourage friendly competition with other local schools. This has been seen in other places to have a massive impact on children’s ability to come to terms with violence and trauma which so many of the girls at IGBS have already experienced in their short lives.
Behaviour at the school remains exemplary, and the Senior 1 class are excellent role models to the younger girls. The student sponsor report highlights the impact this and the school as a whole has on changing attitudes and behaviours around social and cultural expectations of girls, and provides an inspiring example of how education reduces gender-based violence.
Two health teams have visited the school to ensure that pupils and staff are fully aware of how to detect and prevent the Ebola virus, and how to handle an infected person, as well as how to prevent and treat intestinal worms. Generally the pupils and staff have been healthy, but there have been some cases of malaria and other illnesses.
The school also now has a new Parent-Teacher Association, after the tragic death last year of its previous chair Hon. Alfred Rugapai last year. The new PTA Chair is Mr Anthony Arkangelo Makana, supported by Mrs Nama Enoka as Treasurer and two further committee members.
Vicky Ajidiru, IGBS Headteacher, 13th May 2019