Vol. 5 Num 811 Wed. September 06, 2006  

Lest We Forget
Professor Noman: My idol, my guide

PROFESSOR Noman was a born teacher. The reputation commanded by Prof. Noman in the country's educational arena was enviable. He was a real architect of building worthy men. To each of his students he was a friend, philosopher and guide. Prof. Noman believed that an ideal teacher would rise above all narrow things and would set the trend of a wise, sophisticated, capable and dedicated soul, who would nourish and enrich is knowledge through his own wisdom, initiative and research work, and who would unveil newer horizons of knowledge. And to him an ideal student was one who would combine in himself the inherent traits of modern values, honesty, diligence, dynamism, devotion and the thirst for knowledge and be responsive to the society at large.

Just after obtaining the Master of Arts degree, he started his career as a teacher in the English Department of Dhaka University. Later he switched over to government college. Initially he served at Chittagong and Rajshahi government colleges, but most of his teaching career was spent at Dhaka College where he was professor and head of department of English and, finally, the principal.

Professor Noman's name thus became synonymous with the traditionally famous Dhaka College.

At the last phase of his life Prof Noman again returned to university. He shouldered the very heavy responsibilities as treasurer and then as Vice-chancellor of Jahangirnagar University.

Today, we hardly find a dedicated and popular teacher like Professor Noman, who commanded full confidence of students. It was as if he knew the magic of spell-binding the students. Professor Noman was a real golden man and, coming in touch with him, the students became golden souls themselves. A multitude of his students are now well-established at various spheres of national life. To most of them, Professor Noman remains the best teacher of their lives while they pride themselves as his disciples. And to many of them, Professor Noman remains a guide and guardian.

I was his student at Dhaka College. My five brothers were all his direct students at the same college. And to all of us, Professor Noman was the best teacher of our life -- not considered on a family basis, but in the most impartial sense of the term. His class-lectures placed a spell-binding effect on the students because of his pleasant delivery, appropriate coinage of words and absorbing explanations and commentaries. Those pleasant memories are still engraved in our hearts. And, beyond the classrooms, his speeches at different seminars and meetings were fiery, full of wisdom and thought-provoking.

It would be very difficult to find a teacher as sympathetic, as friendly and as devoted as Professor Noman was. His students were the prime investment of his life and all his attention and thoughts were directed towards providing ideal education to them.

And as the dividend of his investment, he received and is still receiving even after his death the unqualified love and respect from his students. In 1970, Professor Noman was honoured with the Best Teacher Award by the then Pakistan government. The Bangladesh government also honoured him by conferring the Ekushey Award in 1994 in recognition of his contributions to education.

Prof. Noman was a true patriot pursuing democratic norms and sentiments. He had a deep love and respect for the soil and the people of the country. It was his life-long ideal to put the interests of the country and its people above everything else.

Prof. Noman was a freedom fighter, too. The Pakistan occupation army entered his residence with order to kill him. But by the grace of the Almighty, he was spared and the killing forces left the house after looting money and golden ornaments. He had a direct and effective role in organising the war of liberation in his village area. When he was a resident of the Hatirpool area in Dhaka, he used to help the freedom fighters with financial assistance and moral encouragement. He also provided his personal car for the use of freedom fighters in various operations.

Prof. Noman had helped the eminent organisers of the war of liberation like Prof. Rehman Sobhan, Prof. Anisur Rahman, Barrister Moudud Ahmed and renowned painter and cultural personality Mostafa Monwar by providing them with lodging at his village home and assisting them to secretly cross the border through Brahmanbaria. These events are mentioned in the History of the Bangladesh War of Liberation edited by poet Hasan Hafizur Rahman.

True Prof. Noman hailed from an elite family, held high positions and was honoured with many awards. But, those were only the secondary elements of his life, as man he was much bigger than the credentials.

And he was a teacher par excellence. Teaching was not only his profession, it was his real passion. He was also a cultured, tolerant and refined gentleman.

On his receiving the Ekushey Award for outstanding contributions in the field of education in 1994, Professor Noman was given a civic reception by the Banchharampur Thana Association in Dhaka. Speaking on the occasion eminent researcher and civil servant AKM Zakaria said, "Had there been any award for 'perfect gentlemen' in Bangladesh, Professor Noman would undoubtedly have been the first man to win the award.' I take it as the most appropriate assessment of Prof. Noman.

On his death anniversary today we solemnly pray to Almighty Allah to treat Noman Bhai with greater honour in heavens, than what had been bestowed upon him in this world.


Mohammad Mofakker is Secretary, Bangladesh University Grants Commission.