In 1962, Lady Eudora Olayinka Ibiam was first lady of Eastern Nigeria and she brought together women from all the major churches to be United Church Women, Enugu.
This was the same time that her husband almost succeeded in setting up the United Church of Eastern Nigeria. Dr. Francis Akanu Ibiam was at that time a vice president of the World Council of Churches and together they traveled throughout Africa and had the chance of seeing newly established development projects.
Out of this background, Lady Ibiam and her United Church Women established a vocational school for women from the rural areas to train them in family health, nutrition and leadership.
The school was known as Ecumenical Centre for Vocational and Leadership Training. The school was funded by foreign social groups. The first Principal came from Germany. The school was popular and trained the women to a high level in Cookery, Sewing, Shorthand and Typing.
The School buildings were seriously destroyed during the Biafran war and Lady Ibiam had to use all her connections to rebuild the damaged property and add more buildings.
When Lady Ibiam died, the mantle fell on Chief Mrs. Janet Mokelu – the first woman parliamentarian. Under Chief Mokelu, the school continued to the end of the century. As needs changed, rural women no longer needed to come to Enugu as most areas had their own vocational school, so the school continued as a Business School.
In 1997, the state education system had deteriorated and the State Government disengaged all “non indigenes” from their employment resulting in a serious lack of staff in the state schools and a glut of quality teachers on the job market.
Then the United Church Women Management Committee was under the leadership of Elder Mrs. Ori Uko who took the decision to convert the school to a Girls’ Secondary Boarding School. She was determined to run it at a high standard with moderate fees. Thus, the then Lady Ibiam Memorial Ecumenical Leadership Training Centre became the Lady Ibiam Memorial Ecumenical Girls Secondary School. Today, it is the Lady Ibiam Girls Secondary School.
An Education Sub-Committee was set up under the Chairmanship of Mrs. Hazel Kalu with Lady Jane Ndukwe an experienced retired teacher being an invaluable support.
The first task was to sift through mountains of well qualified teachers applying for positions. It fell on Elder Mrs. Uko and Mrs Kalu to hold the interviews for the post of the Principal.
They were completely satisfied to appoint Mrs. Phoebe Isiodu to the post – a former Vice – Principal at Holy Rosary who was dynamic and had all the know-how needed to guide the school authorities through the “red tape” involved in setting up and obtaining approval for a secondary school.
The school opened its doors in September 1997 with 24 students and 16 teachers. It was never quite clear why none of the over three hundred students of the vocational school did not apply to join the secondary school and even appeared to have been spirited away.
The first three years of the school’s existence were hard even with two gifts from Canadian Presbyterian Church, Maintaining a full complement of qualified teaching staff with a small student population was very taxing, also breaking out of the vocational School reputation led to the poor enrolment of students.
By the end of 2001, the committee was able to relax in the knowledge that the school had survived and come to stay. The next ten years have seen the school consolidating on all sides. The first Principal retired and was succeeded by Mrs. Nwosu Mercilline who very sadly died while still in service.
The current Principal, Mrs. Stella Moh, commenced on 10th October, 2016. The school P.T.A. has been consistently supportive and it has been possible with their support to raise staff salaries. There is a graduated staff salary scale with annual increments and a staff pension scheme.
All the buildings have been maintained and upgraded. New classrooms have been built and a second hostel, a large generator installed, the laboratories well equipped and the computer laboratory has 36 up-to-date computers with internet service.
The ownership of the school has always been vested on the United Church Women – a group of interdenominational women, currently led by Dr. Mrs. Lovett Oji.
Last year, a Governing Council under the leadership of Elder Dr. K. U. Kalu CON, still reflects the ecumenical status of the school.