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 especially within the school's catchment area, Western Equatoria State.
Ibba Girls' Boarding School aims to provide high-quality education across the five years of upper primary school and the four-year secondary curriculum. Offering 'excellence without elitism', it is open to all, regardless of their families' background, status or income. Rooted in Christian values, the school welcomes 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 so that they can transform their communities and their nation.
IGBS aims to provide a safe, stimulating and supportive environment in which all young people have the freedom and the opportunities to fulfil their unique potential academically, physically, socially, emotionally and spiritually, through dedicated, innovative and enthusiastic teaching and learning.
The school focuses on girls only because so few get the chance of education; only 1 in 5 girls are still in school by the age of around 10. The school spans upper primary and secondary as these are the years with the highest drop-out rates nationally.
To fulfil our aim of combining excellence with accessibility, the school is residential, allowing girls from a wide catchment area (about the size of Scotland) to attend and to study safely, protected from early and forced marriage and pregnancy and without the additional pressure of domestic duties during term-time.
We also aim to uplift the performance of feeder primary schools in the surrounding area by funding additional teachers, training and books, and also to support literacy and adult education classes.
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. At the time she was one of very few girls from Ibba to have had schooling beyond age 10 (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. She then 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, including local chiefs and clergy, parents, educators in South Sudan, and government at county, state and national levels.
She donated a large plot of family land on which to build the school and also inspired the village chief, Severio, to give an adjacent plot of land - making a total of 73 acres available for the school. Chief Severio has since donated a further plot to help the school grow its own food.
In 2011, Friends of Ibba Girls’ School (FIGS) 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, governance, financial management and quality teaching and learning).
In 2013, Ibba Girls Boarding School was registered under South Sudanese law, with its own body of South Sudanese Trustees and Board of Governors (on which the UK Trustees are represented).
In March 2014, the school opened to its first 40 ten-year-old girl students and marked this achievement with an official Opening Ceremony.
Since 2014, another 5 cohorts of girls have joined the school, so that it now spans Primary 4 to Secondary 1, with 220 girl students living and learning at Ibba with great enthusiasm. The initial cohort sat their Primary Leaving Exams in 2018 and the top 6 scorers in the country were all from Ibba Girls' Boarding School. IGBS was also the only school to receive a 100% pass rate.
This is a wonderful result from such a young school, nothing short of a miracle. However, we still need to raise sufficient funding year on year so these girls can continue their education - and so over the next 3 years, another 120 girls can enrol, and receive the priceless opportunity to learn.