We see a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make a practical difference to the education and life chances of girls in South Sudan, within the school's catchment area of Amadi, Gbudwe and Maridi states.
Ibba Girls Boarding School aims to provide high quality education for girls aged 10-18+. 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 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, shielded from onerous domestic duties, and early marriage and pregnancy.
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 the existing literacy and adult education classes available.
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.
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 for 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, 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 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 (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, design, governance and financial management).
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 in June.
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 across Amadi, Gbudwe and Maridi states 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 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.
So for Year 5 in 2018, we need:
In parallel with our fundraising efforts, we need to build the capacity of the school as an organisation, strengthening its governance, leadership and management.
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.
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).