On behalf of the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission (CSC) in the UK, the British Council hosted the Commonwealth Alumni Annual Meeting for Bangladesh at the Dhaka University campus office on 5 November 2016. The event marked a significant milestone since for the first time Bangladesh Association of Commonwealth Scholars and Fellows (BACSAF) led the overall planning, moderation and facilitation of the programme. It was the culmination of the relentless effort by the working group members of BACSAF that made the event fruitful for all the participants. Along with over 100 Commonwealth alumni, Abdul Mannan, Chairman of UGC Professor, Jane Edmondson, Head of DFID Bangladesh and Adrian Jones, Head of Political Section at the British High Commission attended as special guests.
The programme kicked off with a breakout session where the alumni formed into three groups and engaged in brain-storming sessions where their enthusiasm and knowledge made the discussions highly interactive. A number of thought-provoking challenges were identified in the three thematic areas. In relation to Governance, a lecturer from Dhaka International University mentioned that large volume of research and thoughts exist in the academic space but very little gets implemented in real life. In Education and Research, it was pointed out that adaptation capacity of teachers is low due to lack of adequate training facilities. In the discussion about the environment, the need for equal treatment of disabled people was highlighted.
The association warmly welcomed Rashika Abesinghe, a foreign national studying in Bangladesh under the Commonwealth Scholarship. The event also formally launched the website of BACSAF which is envisioned to provide an ideal platform for improved networking, communication and coordination among the Commonwealth alumni and also to act as a point of information for future generations who wish to be awarded this prestigious award.
In the group discussions, the association expressed their interest in strengthening renewable energy investment in Bangladesh and to utilise their networking in order to bring about positive changes in the field of psycho-social treatment. Professor Abdul Mannan shared that over the years the relationship between Bangladesh and the UK has helped alumni to secure high skills opportunity, equipped with training and professional skills other than mere academics. In conclusion, the alumni pledged to work collectively through future BACSAF workshops and meetings to mitigate the challenges identified during the breakout sessions and contribute to socio-economic change aligning with UN’s sustainable development goals.