The British Council is implementing the 'Leadership for Advancing Development in Bangladesh (LEAD Bangladesh)' project in Bangladesh to empower young people in Bangladesh as leaders in their communities to identify innovative, sustainable solutions to local and global challenges. The LEAD Bangladesh project focuses on increasing youth engagement, voice, agency and participation in policy development in Bangladesh and developing future change-makers with a global perspective. Through this programme, 3,000 young people across Bangladesh will interact and collaborate with 40 leaders from the UK's Bangladeshi diaspora community. The interaction and collaboration will help each group better understand how they can connect to take action for social development. Experienced professionals and leaders from the Bangladeshi diaspora community in the UK will provide mentorship support to the young Bangladeshi leaders as they develop Social Action Projects (SAPs).In turn, it will allow them to create an on-the-ground understanding of the critical challenges across Bangladesh while gaining the valuable experience of mentoring in a cross-cultural setting. A select group, based on the SAPs, from each thematic area, will have the opportunity to meet face-to-face with the mentors as part of joint visioning workshops, which will also, facilitate broader perspective and intercultural dialogue on Bangladesh's challenges and solutions on these three selected issues.
The participants from Bangladesh will also have access to an online platform that provides further self-access training on leadership and opportunities for global collaboration and networking with young people across the Commonwealth, an open-source leadership platform. As direct beneficiaries of the SAPs conducted by the young leaders, Bangladeshi community members at SAPs locations, including local the government will also be involved through discussion and action in the design and implementation of the SAPs, a critical aspect of success and sustainability of the programme. To bring multiple actors together - policymakers, youth participants, diaspora leaders and youth groups, the programme will culminate in a leadership symposium in 2022.
The British Council envisages that the programme has the potential to increase global Bangladeshi diaspora involvement in the development of Bangladesh by creating a more meaningful and sustainable global network of leaders, who are invested in Bangladesh' development through knowledge transfer, skills exchange, experience sharing, cultural exchange, civic engagement, exposure visits and impact investment/socially responsible investment.
The LEAD Bangladesh project is designed based on the Active Citizens Programme (ACP) methodology. ACP is a global social leadership programme that builds trust and understanding, promotes intercultural dialogue and community-led development by focusing on local engagement through social action, and supporting partners and other organisations at the community and local government level. Working in Bangladesh with leading CSO partners and the government since 2009, the programme has supported more than 45,000 young people to develop their social leadership skills and undertake Social Action Projects (SAPs) in their communities. The project has launched on 1 October 2020 will continue till 30 September 2022. The expected outcomes of this project are:
- Enhanced leadership and social skills for young people in Bangladesh in order to take on key challenges of Bangladesh’s development.
- Diaspora leaders understanding more widely about development challenges in Bangladesh, and acting as a result, through ongoing mentorship of future leaders/youth to provide solutions and overcome challenges
- Empowered young people are motivated to engage in communities on issues around social entrepreneurship, climate impact, and civic engagement in local governance.
- Increased dialogue between young people, local government and sectoral experts - providing meaningful opportunities for Bangladeshi youth to participate in policy discussions and debate, enabling to help shape the future of Bangladesh.
- A sustained network of changemakers in Bangladesh, the UK and across the Commonwealth, who come together to exchange knowledge, ideas and initiatives on challenges effecting both Bangladesh and the world.