In November 1951 we opened an office in the Dhaka University premises, although we soon moved into the city, occupying one floor of the building at 17 Nazimuddin Road. Initially, the office, run by two London-appointed staff, had limited functions – arranging the visits of lecturers from the UK, setting up exhibitions and fielding educational enquiries. The success of the first teacher training course, in December 1952, showed the enthusiasm for the British Council services which existed in Dhaka at that time.
Our physical library opened in 1954. These were the times when the internet did not exist and people had to rely on physical libraries to get access to reference materials, publications, research documents and literature. People who eventually became bureaucrats, professors, leaders of the civil society, politicians - many of them who were students at Dhaka University then has the experience of visiting our library at least once as a student. Later, branch libraries were opened in Chattogram and Rajshahi in the early sixties. The library was later transformed into a cultural and convening space.
On the Black Night of 25 March 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, we lost eight guards during the Dhaka University massacre. Our office and library remained closed for eight months after the incident. The memorial of the eight martyrs is currently placed in the Dhaka Fuller Road Office as commemoration and remembrance to their noble sacrifice. In 2017, we commenced an exhibition entitled London 1971: The unsung heroes of the Bangladesh liberation war where rare photographs, artefacts and films of the movement were featured.
In 1978, Commonwealth Scholarships, administered by the British Council was awarded for the first time in Bangladesh. To date, we continue to offer scholarships to Bangladesh students wishing to study in the UK and maintain a Bangladesh-UK Alumni network. From 1983, we started offering English Language courses and currently we help improve the English language proficiency of thousands of young learners, adults, corporate employees and Government officials.
Renowned UK theatre director Deborah Warner visited Dhaka to direct a production of the Tempest in 1986. Over the next few decades, we continued as a pioneering partner in the cultural movement of Bangladesh and connected the best of UK creativity, director and artists, with the theatre artists and talents in Bangladesh. These resulted in many progressive and unique partnership productions in stage theatre, puppet theatre, films and cultural arena.