First woman made head of South Sudan university
Maxwell Choul, Juba
For the very first time, South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has appointed a woman to chair the governing body of one of South Sudan’s universities. Awut Deng Acuil, presently the Minister of General Education and Instructions, will chair the council of the University of Bahr El-Ghazal.
Ms Acuil previously served as Minister of Foreign Affairs between August 2019 and March 2020, though she was replaced in this role following the appointment of a unity government in February to resolve the conflict between South Sudan’s rival groups.
This transition, which saw the naming of 35 ministers for the new unity government, resulted in her replacement by Beatrice Wani-Noah, and her moving to the office of General Education and Instructions.
Having graduated from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa with a degree in political sciences, Acuil had dedicated much of her life to regional peace initiatives. She participated in the New Sudan Council of Churches peace initiative, along with the 2002-2004 peace talks with Kenya, which culminated in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005. For her efforts for the former she was awarded the 2002 Interaction Humanitarian Award. Acuil has also served as South Sudan’s Minister of Labor and Public Service and Minister of Gender, Child and Social Welfare. Since 2010, she has also been a member of parliament.
The University of Bahr El-Ghazal, located in the city of Wau, in the Bahr El Ghazal Region, was established in 1991, when at the time South Sudan was still part of Sudan. It makes up one of South Sudan’s five public universities, and it has six colleges; Medicine and Health Sciences (CMHS), Public Health and Environmental Sciences, Economics and Social Studies, Education, Veterinary Sciences, and Agriculture. It lies 650 kilometres northwest of Juba.