The British Council, on behalf of the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission (CSC) in the UK, recently supported Bangladesh Association of Commonwealth Scholars and Fellows (BACSAF) in their organisation of their Annual General Meeting on 26 January. The event was a landmark event for BACSAF attended by over 70 Commonwealth alumni who for the first time had the chance to register with the association formally.

The main objectives of the meeting were to welcome home scholars who have returned from their Commonwealth experience and to formalise the Executive Committee of BACSAF. The meeting was met with happy enthusiasm and many alumni registered as annual members and life members of BACSAF by paying the registration fees. The high number of registrations reflected the excitement of the alumni to engage in various activities through BACSAF for the development of society.

After the opening speech by BACSAF’s convenor, Professor Rafiqul Islam, there was a session on the British Council’s engagement with the alumni and the diverse range of activities arranged throughout the years. An address by the General Secretary of BACSAF Professor M Shahidul Islam followed this, who warmly acknowledged the continuous support of the British Council and CSC towards establishing BACSAF as a self-sustaining body. He believes that in a few years, the alumni BACSAF will be able to expand its range of activities to engage with several national issues. 

Dr A K Azad Chowdhury, Former Vice Chancellor of the University of Dhaka gave a short speech in recognition of the hard work by the young alumni members and their potential to contribute to the development of their country. He reiterated the prestige of being a Commonwealth alumnus and the widespread acceptance it commands around the world.

There was an interactive session conducted by a group of alumni to allow the existing members to share their opinions and ideas about making BACSAF a stronger organisation and the sort of events they would like to participate in. There were a host of brilliant ideas from alumni hailing from different professional and academic sectors. It included a call to establish a formal network and database of the members, so they are better equipped to assist others through professional and academic engagements; arrange outreach events to motivate the young generation to work for the country; create a research fund from member donations to support budding researchers, etc. Dr Biswas Karabi Farhana briefly spoke about the Commonwealth Alumni Mentoring Plan (CAMP) and how it has been envisioned to allow the alumni to support each other. Finally, the Convenor of BACSAF invited volunteers from among the alumni to join the Executive Committee and work together to organise impactful events on behalf of BACSAF in the coming months. 

Participants also expressed their appreciation for this opportunity to play an active role in building their association according to their dreams. The alumni have already had multiple successful community engagement programmes with women affected by gender violence and research and career development workshops.