Active Citizens of the British Council is more than a big name in the field of development sector driven by the youth in Bangladesh. Active Citizens connects thousands of like-minded people around the world who collectively want to make a fairer and more inclusive society. Easier said than done, which is why the British Council makes sure that every Active Citizen is sufficiently equipped to take on the social responsibilities.

Ever wondered how the Active Citizens work? Delivery partners identify facilitators and the British Council train them in the skills they need to deliver the Active Citizens training to others. Following their practice, these facilitators use the Active Citizens toolkit to design and provide the training programme to participants in their local communities. Participants receive the tools and support they need to set up or adapt the way they run their social action projects to tackle a social issue within their community. Therefore, the training takes a lot of vigorous work, especially for a diverse and densely populated country like Bangladesh.

From 24 -29 June 2018, the British Council organised a residential Training of Facilitators (ToF) for 36 facilitators from across Bangladesh, nominated by delivery partner organisations Centre for Communication and Development, The Hunger Project, DemocracyWatch, SIL International, Rupantar, Rural Reconstruction Foundation, Shushilan, Wave Foundation, and Uttaran. This 5-day training focused on facilitation skills development of the Active Citizens Youth Leadership Training (ACYLT) training aimed at participants who are strongly motivated to bring positive changes to the society. The ToF included the following sessions:

Me - Identity and culture

The participants received a better understanding of the concepts of identity and culture and apply their learning to understanding the beliefs, behaviour and attitudes of themselves and other people in their communities.

Me and You - Intercultural Dialogue

This session introduced methods of dialogue as a tool for building empathy, trust and understanding within and across cultures.

Local and Global Community - We together

The part of the training focused on the development of an understanding of ‘community’ and its relationship with identity and culture. The participants applied their learnings to their communities to identify the problems they would like to address and the people they need to engage to achieve their objectives.

Social Action Planning

Participants focused on planning a social action initiative in their communities, considering the process in different levels of detail and complexity. This involves identifying and clarifying an agenda, taking in the account of culture, gender and other influencing factors, a specific intervention method and system of delivery.

Other sessions are also conducted to elaborate the reason, theme and facilitating techniques to implement a project in communities.

After the briefing, the facilitators were divided into five groups with an assignment to plan a training delivery over the next three days. In turns, the groups presented their plans, which were peer-reviewed by other groups to pick out strengths and weaknesses of each project. By the final day, every facilitator became acutely aware of their capacities to deliver the training in their communities. This ToF training has been designed to emphasise hands-on learning skills for conducting sessions. Mahbubur Rahman, a facilitator, said, “I have gained knowledge on how to communicate with the participants properly, how to take decisions in a group and how to lead in a complex situation. This training has been extremely helpful.”

The British Council aims to enrich the pool of Active Citizen facilitators every year and to bring positive changes in different parts of the country through their community work all over Bangladesh.