The pioneering FES Academy of Work gets a makeover in Bangladesh

Two years after the first Academy of Work in Bangladesh, trainers have restyled the programme to better respond to the challenges of organized labour in the future world of work.

  • Discussion among participants from the first 2017 cohort of the Academy of Work, Dhaka, April 2017. Photo by FES © Allison Sarah Joyce.

The Bangladesh Academy of Work welcomed its annual intake of students on August 20, for the third session of the pioneering three-month training programme for emerging trade union leaders. In the previous months the Academy’s trainers attended a workshop to revise the curriculum, incorporating their experiences over the past two years and the developments in the world of work.

The brainchild of Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) and the Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD) of the country’s leading BRAC University, the Academy of Work is the only one of its kind in Bangladesh. Its aim is to strengthen dialogue between trade unions across sectors, and to strengthen the trade union movement itself. Since its launch in 2017 more than 40 young trade union leaders have completed the intensive training in industrial relations, the economy and decent work, delivered in Dhaka in their own language by professionals and academics from Bangladesh.

Over two days in July, those trainers of the Academy of Work exchanged their own findings from the programme’s success over the past years and discussed the updated objectives. While validating existing topics, they also incorporated new ones, for example a focus on media. Here are some of their thoughts on this year’s programmes in their own words:

Photo by FES Bangladesh/Iqbal Hossain

Shakil Akhter Chowdhury

Member of Executive Board, BILS

Occupational Health and Safety is a major issue in Bangladesh. When I conducted sessions on Occupational Health and Safety at the academy, I focused on how to identify workplace hazards and prevent accidents. I believe the course will enhance the capacity of trade unions to handle OSH issue and improve workplace safety.

Photo by FES Bangladesh/Iqbal Hossain

AKM Nasim

Advocate, Solidarity Center, Dhaka

The module on Labour and Industrial Laws at the Academy gives participants an understanding and in-depth knowledge of the law’s practicalities, which can increase trade unions’ capacity to negotiate effectively with employers.

Photo by FES Bangladesh/Iqbal Hossain

Farzana Karim

Senior news and program anchor at Ekattor TV, Dhaka

The Media session at the Academy is very relevant for the trade union leaders. It will make them understand how to judiciously increase the exposure of unions in the virtual world. This includes social media, in particular how to distinguish between fake news, rumours, and evidenced-based and factual news.

Photo by FES Bangladesh/Iqbal Hossain

Tania Haque

Professor, Dhaka University, Dhaka

In Bangladesh, gender norms and cultures often exclude women from trade-union rights. The training on "Gender, TU and Decent Work" discusses strategies to support both women and men in overcoming these hurdles. Improving the gender balanced of unions in Bangladesh will facilitate the overall growth of the economy.

Photo by FES Bangladesh/Iqbal Hossain

Mohammad Sirajul Islam

Senior Research Associate, Dhaka

The Project Management session at the Academy develops skills to address problems in the production sector. There is a need in Bangladesh to identify problems systematically and undertake interventions logically - and this requires specialized competencies. The Academy is an excellent opportunity for me to teach project management based on my professional experience.

Photo by FES Bangladesh/Iqbal Hossain

Shanawez Hossain

Research Fellow, Dhaka

The sessions on Leadership Skills and Basic English Communication, these are fundamental for aspiring trade union leaders. It helps them to understand organizational and conflict management, as well as teaching individual leadership behaviours such as self-management, social awareness and emotional intelligence. Communication skills in English are also important for participants for active participation at national and global levels.

Photo by FES Bangladesh/Iqbal Hossain

Jakir Hossain

Professor, Rajshahi University, Rajshahi

This session explores the features of and reasons for governance deficit in global supply chains, under the title Workers’ Strategies in Global Supply Chains: Governance Instruments. It also highlights ways of closing governance gaps through public, private, social categories of governance instruments. The module provides knowledge on what constituents and stakeholders can do to ensure that decent work is promoted and protected right along supply chains.


For more information on the Academy of Work contact the Dhaka-based FES office in Bangladesh and follow their Facebook page.

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