South Sudan, a mainly African and Christian country, has just emerged from over 25 years of civil war with North Sudan (a mainly Muslim, Arabic country). It became an independent nation on July 9th, 2011, with a population of about 10 million people living in one of the poorest nations in the world. Sixty to seventy-five per cent of the people are living on less than one US dollar a day. Only 27% have access to clean drinking water, and 15% to clean sanitation. Public health and medical services are very limited or non-existent. Life expectancy is 49 years for men and 51 years for women.
The education of a generation has been severely disrupted. According to the UK Guardian newspaper:
Girls’ education is particularly dire. Only seven girls for every 10 boys attend primary school; five girls for 10 boys at the secondary level. Only 9% of girls who enrol in grade one complete primary school, and only 2% make it through secondary school. … Currently, there are only 30,000 girls in upper primary school, aged between eight and 11. According to Unicef, 64% (around 1 million) of children between the ages of six and 11 are not in school. Of a population of more than 8 million, almost 3 million are aged between five and 18. …
The cultural barriers to girls’ education are formidable. As in many African countries, women and girls in South Sudan are responsible for most household tasks, including collecting water. The average time spent collecting water can be up to eight hours a day in areas with limited water and sanitation. …
And when fees have to be paid at secondary school level – and parents have to decide whether to pay for their sons or daughters to attend – boys get preference.
History of Project
In 2007, John Benington and Professor Jean Hartley (from Warwick Business School) were asked to go to Juba in South Sudan to run a series of workshops on public management for newly appointed officials in the interim Government of South Sudan. Bridget Nagomoro was one of these officials.
One lunchtime, sitting beside the Nile river, Bridget told John about her dream of setting up a girls residential school for girls in Ibba, her own village and county. She asked for help to develop a detailed plan, and then to raise the finance needed.
He and Jean agreed to help. Since then John has visited Ibba six times, with Pauline Walker an experienced teacher from South Sudan, helping Bridget and the local community to develop their plan to build a girls school in the village, and to serve the needs of the surrounding villages and Western Equatoria State along with the local community.
Bridget Nagamoro gave up her job in Government to return to Ibba County as local Government Commissioner so that she could be actively involved in developing the school. She has given a large plot of land on which to build the school and inspired the village chief to give an adjacent plot of land making a total of 73 acres of land for the school campus.
In the United Kingdom the Friends of Ibba Girls’ School (which is now a registered charity, to protect the vision, the land and the funding for the school) gathers together a variety of people and groups to to raise the finance to make sure that a first intake of 80 pupils (in two classes of 40 pupils each) can be welcomed, if possible, in Spring, 2013. And to help with the design and development.
We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make a practical difference to the education and life chances of girls in South Sudan, the majority of whom currently receive no schooling beyond the age of ten. Our aim is to build a residential school just outside the village. It will provide high quality education for girls aged 10 – 18. It will be for girls of all faiths and none, but grounded in Christian values.
Aims, Objectives and Activities
Our aim is to build and develop a residential girls school in Ibba village, in the County of Ibba in South Sudan to provide high quality education for girls aged 10-18 years old. We want to empower young women with the values, knowledge and skills for leadership in their families, in their local communities and organisations, and in this newest African nation.
Bridget Nagomoro and an Ibba village elder Severio have donated more than 70 acres of forest land which is rich in mango, banana, date palm, millet, ground nuts, rice and maize. But the village currently has no safe drinking water, electricity, or sanitation. So the school is being designed on green and sustainable principles, using local materials and natural energy sources as far as possible. We, will use clay bricks, solar water bore-holes, waste recycling, anaerobic bio-digesters, and solar electricity.
Our educational aim is to combine excellence with accessibility. We will offer places to girls whatever their background, status or faith, who are committed to achieving the highest possible educational standards, capabilities and skills both for life and work. We will recruit an outstanding female African head-teacher and classroom teachers in 2012 to prepare the school for an opening early in 2013. Actively reaching out to potential pupils, we will visit villages to talk with prospective pupils and their parents. We intend that no child be prevented from attending because of lack of income, and will make bursaries extensively available.
As a first step, we are helping to improve the quality and effectiveness of the feeder primary schools in the surrounding area by funding additional teachers, books and training. We will also support local literacy and adult education classes. Then we will create the residential secondary school in stages, starting with two cohorts of 40 girls in February 2013. (They will be about 10 years old, roughly at what is called Primary Stage Four). Over time we will build up to 640 students by 2020, recruiting 80 a year for the following seven years.