May 26, 2020, was a dark day for many of us, since it marked the loss of Ms Niloufer Manzur, the principal of Sunbeams School and a great educationist. To thousands of her students, it meant losing a lighthouse.
To her, education was more than textbook teaching, and meant preparing her students in such a way that they could fight with all the struggles in life and make positive changes all around the world. Anyone who has ever known her would never feel a need to look for some other person for looking up to.
As students of Sunbeams, the meaning of the seven rays of its logo was something we often came across. The seven rays of the Sunbeams logo represented seven values: knowledge, leadership, patriotism, integrity, humility, confidence and commitment.
As we grew up and started to realise the meaning of each of the values, we found that the biggest representative of those values was Ms Niloufer Manzur herself. She was a highly knowledgeable person, who lit up the lives of thousands of others by spreading that knowledge. She portrayed her leadership skills right from the starting of Sunbeams back in 1974 to make it into one of the five most prestigious English schools in Bangladesh. She herself has always loved Bangladesh immensely, and encouraged her students to do so. She had always loathed falsehood and maintained integrity.
Although Ms Niloufer was one of the greatest personalities of Bangladesh, she was always down to earth. She always taught her students that, without confidence, one cannot achieve anything in life, be it good results or a football championship. Throughout her life, she had remained committed to the purpose of enlightening the lives of the new generation and preparing them as responsible global citizens.
Moreover, Ms Niloufer Manzur had a unique ability of loving others unconditionally. Although, she was a really busy person herself, she always tried to pay attention to each one of her students individually, each teacher working at Sunbeams and every single member of the support staff. She used to encourage us to think of Sunbeams not only as our school but also as part of our family.
Whenever any student was going through any form of difficulty, she was always there for them. I remember, once she broke into tears in the assembly when a student of fourth grade died unfortunately. Ms Niloufer knew the strengths and weaknesses of every one of her students. She had such a towering personality that it was always difficult for any of her students to look at her eyes and lie. Whenever there was any cultural programme in school, she always paid full attention to the performers. Her smile during the inauguration of the indoor basketball court is still vivid in our memory. It just showed how much every small progress made by Sunbeams meant to her.
Although Sunbeams is an English medium school, she always taught her students the importance of loving their motherland and native language. This is the reason why studying Bengali and Bangladesh Studies was made mandatory in Sunbeams. She always wanted her students to realise that one cannot succeed in life without knowing their roots properly. A person like Ms Niloufer Manzur, who illuminated the lives of thousands, can never die. She will always remain alive in the hearts of her students through her ideals and teachings.