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Proof of impact: Research highlights alumni contributions to economic growth in Bangladesh

Posted: 19 January 2021

Bangladesh, Alumni, Impact,

Australia Awards is proud of the efforts of all alumni in contributing to economic growth and sustainable development. The specific impacts achieved in these areas by a selection of alumni in Bangladesh have been documented in an Australia Awards Global Tracer Facility Case Study conducted by the Australian Council for Educational Research.

The Case Study, released in 2020, found that these alumni are contributing to Bangladesh’s development through societal-level impact in areas such as fiscal and international trade policy and through organisational impact by leading capacity building activities. The alumni—who all graduated or completed a Fellowship between 2011 and 2016—demonstrated technical and thematic expertise in their respective roles in the finance and economics sector and contributed in various ways to economic growth, sustainable development and fiscal reform.

The alumni contributions highlighted in the Case Study were in three key outcome areas:

  • developing and implementing policies for economic growth
  • contributing to and improving practice for sustainable and inclusive development
  • mentoring and capacity building.

One of the alumni participants in the Case Study was Nahid Sultana Mallik, who used her Master of Arts degree from Flinders University to research the effectiveness of two social protection programs for elderly people in Bangladesh. Nahid gained experience in grassroots-level qualitative research and evaluation that included interviews, focus groups and field visits to local villages. Since completing her master’s degree (with the support of an Australia Awards Scholarship), this experience has led her to contribute to the National Strategy for the Health Workforce in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, conduct project evaluations within the Ministry of Finance and publish an article in the Bangladesh Journal of Administration and Management titled ‘Achieving Sustainable Social Safety Nets in Bangladesh’.

Australia Awards alumna Naheed Sultana Malik (also pictured above)

Rama Dewan, another Case Study participant, completed an Australian Leadership Award in Capacity Building for Trade, Environment and Development in Bangladesh from Macquarie University in 2013. She shares the impact of Australia Awards on sustainable development in Bangladesh, her professional career and those around her when she says, “In our previous office work, we rarely considered sustainability issues for policy recommendations. But after completing my Fellowship, I have learnt how to use them in different policy formulations, for which I feel proud. In addition, I shared my experiences with my fellow colleagues, which is very useful indeed.”

Australia Awards alumna Rama Dewan

Md. Tariq Hassan was also involved in the Case Study. Tariq identified early in his career that he wanted to contribute to policy development in Bangladesh; he subsequently completed a Master of International and Development Economics from the Australian National University with the support of an Australia Awards Scholarship. Tariq is now putting his study into practice through his contributions at the Government of Bangladesh’s National Board of Revenue. “I am a member of the core team that formulates the fiscal policy for this country. There are nine members who actually formulate the policy and I think it’s a matter of real pride at my age to be one of them,” he says.

Australia Awards alumnus Md. Tariq Hassan

The Case Study identified that the alumni involved had not only developed their technical skills but also demonstrated leadership competencies in their roles. These competencies include mentoring, critical thinking and problem solving, stakeholder management and engagement, adaptation of knowledge and skills to local contexts, and internal collaboration and communication.

Sultana Afroz epitomises this finding of the Case Study. “I convened the high-level task force headed by the Prime Minister’s Office of Bangladesh in respect to involving non-resident Bangladeshis in the national development of Bangladesh to achieve [Sustainable Development Goal] 17,” she says. “As convenor, I have been involved with the decision-making process and have carried out the decisions by developing and approving the Standard Operational Procedure—a process I chaired and coordinated.” Sultana was formerly the Chief Innovation Officer and Additional Secretary in the Economic Relations Division, Ministry of Finance, and is currently the Secretary to the Government of Bangladesh and the Chief Executive Officer of the Public-Private Partnership Authority, Prime Minister’s Office.

Australia Awards alumna Sultana Afroz

Sultana believes in the power of ‘global villages’ and saw that her observations in Australia could be applied to change the status quo, encouraging innovation and ‘thinking out of the box’ among her colleagues and team. Sultana completed an Australia Awards Fellowship in Building Capacity for Effective Negotiation and Participation in International Treaties for Bangladesh from Macquarie University in 2014.

The Case Study also identified factors that assisted alumni to achieve success. It noted that all the alumni involved in the study have strong personal motivation and commitment to continually improve their capabilities and contributions to their workplaces. The technical knowledge, leadership competencies and networks they developed as part of their Australia Awards experience broadened their mindset and improved their confidence in pursuing and leading changes. Finally, the workplaces of these alumni supported them with opportunities.

The Case Study is a part of the work of the Australia Awards Global Tracer Facility, which collects information about the pathways alumni follow after their graduation, their contributions to sustainable development in their home countries and public diplomacy benefits for Australia from a global network of enriched Australia Awards recipients.