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APSU, Southern Sudanese sign MOU to provide educational opportunities

Following years of a devastating civil war, the foreign minister of Southern Sudan said Friday the people in his state are very optimistic about rebuilding their governmental capacities, one based on educational goals.

Through a new partnership with Austin Peay State University, those goals will become a reality.
Following years of a devastating civil war, the foreign minister of Southern Sudan said Friday the people in his state are “very optimistic” about rebuilding their governmental capacities, one based on educational goals.

Through a new partnership with Austin Peay State University, those goals will become a reality.

“There are very high expectations,” Southern Sudanese Foreign Minister Nhial Deng Nhial said during a press conference on the APSU campus. “Our human resources need to be developed. That is where (APSU) will play a role in that development. We are very optimistic.”

On Friday, Nhial Deng Nhial and APSU President Sherry Hoppe signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to foster the development of Southern Sudan through educational and training programs. Members of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) in Nashville, where the country's largest concentration of Southern Sudan diaspora (people settled far from their homeland) is located, and a delegation from Southern Sudan was on campus to plan for democratic elections to be held in Fall 2006.

Many in the delegation smiled and applauded repeatedly as the signing took place.

“I think this is very promising,” said Anwar Elhaj, a member of the SPLM delegation in Washington, D.C., who attended the press conference.

The signed MOU will help APSU and Southern Sudanese officials to form a proposal that will explain in more detail how the University and the new government may work cooperatively to educate Southern Sudan's future leaders, according to Greg Kaufmann, director of the Institute for Global Security Studies at APSU. This agreement provides an unparalleled opportunity for APSU and the region to contribute to a humanitarian project that will have long-lasting repercussions.

Nhial Deng Nhial called the MOU signing an “unprecedented” moment “because perhaps this is the first time an academic institution outside our country has taken an active role in our country.”

The MOU also will enable APSU experts to assist Southern Sudan in meeting the myriad challenges it faces over the next century. Estimates indicate that the state of Southern Sudan — which is the result of a comprehensive peace agreement signed in January 2005 that also created the newly autonomous government of Southern Sudan — will need 42,000 civil servants to populate its new government structures, Kaufmann said.

“There is a sense of urgency, a need to rebuild this capacity,” Kaufmann said.
Hoppe noted how APSU students might have opportunities to participate in the Southern Sudanese effort.

“I think it's possible for students to go into a humanitarian mission to help build the infrastructure in Southern Sudan,” she said.

For more information, contact Kaufmann by telephone at (931) 221-7911 or by e-mail at kaufmannng@apsu.edu. -- Melony Leazer