Meet Teacher Joy, teen giving pupils free tuition

Form One student Joy Lorna Adhiambo of Lugulu Girls High School conducts free community-based learning at Shirere Estate in Kakamega.

Photo credit: Isaac | Wale

What you need to know:

  • Rather than sit at home and bemoan the disruption of learning, Joy came up with a rather unique idea to keep herself busy but still remain within a classroom setup. Joy, in a nutshell, decided to become a teacher.
  • Her passion for learning and hard work has earned her a nickname in her small neighbourhood.
  • Children refer to her as “Teacher Joy”, which she has gladly embraced.


Fourteen-year-old Joy Lorna Adhiambo, a Form One student at Lugulu Girls High School in Bungoma County, had a light-bulb moment after schools were abruptly closed in March this year due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

Rather than sit at home and bemoan the disruption of learning, Joy came up with a rather unique idea to keep herself busy but still remain within a classroom setup. Joy, in a nutshell, decided to become a teacher.

Her passion for learning and hard work has earned her a nickname in her small neighbourhood. Children refer to her as “Teacher Joy”, which she has gladly embraced.

As the government struggles to kick off the community-based learning, Joy thinks her makeshift programme could offer lessons on how to best implement the initiative.

Her approach is uncomplicated. Every morning she offers primary school pupils free lessons then assigns them tasks, which they review the next day.

She first shared the idea with her elder sister Mary Akinyi, a second-year student at Kenyatta University, where she is studying Mathematics and Computer Science. Her mother, Christine Atieno, who is a cleaner at the Kakamega County General Hospital, egged her on.

Form One student Joy Lorna Adhiambo of Lugulu Girls High School conducts free community-based learning at Shirere Estate in Kakamega.

Photo credit: Isaac Wale | Nation Media Group

Her class of 15 pupils from the neighbourhood is conducted in the shade of a banana plantation. Pupils are required to report early and in the morning and wear face masks. Lessons run from Monday to Saturday, starting at 9.30am to 1pm.

Joy says she decided to offer these lessons to her neighbourhood children in order to keep them busy and engaged.

“I started with two Standard 8 pupils who requested that I help them to carry on with their studies. I couldn’t wait since I wanted to help the pupils to focus on their studies despite what had happened so that they could prepare for the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education exam,” said Joy at her parents’ home.

Her lessons are drawn from text books used in primary schools. They include Primary Mathematics, Primary Science, Primary English and Our Lives Today for Social Sciences.

Joy sat her KCPE exam in 2019 at Kakamega Primary School and scored 396 marks. She joined Lugulu Girls High School.

“I enjoy what I’m doing to keep myself busy. I’m motivated by passion for education. I would like to see the pupils work hard and join a good school,” she said.

Her elder sister, Mercy, also sat her KCPE exam at Kakamega Primary School. She scored 378 marks and helps Joy draw lessons plans and mark assignments.

She ensures that Joy spends an hour or two every night studying.

“I give her assignments and guide her in her studies. She is a such a bright student ,” said Mercy.

Mrs Phyllis Adhiambo, a parent of one of the beneficiaries of Joy’s free classes, says she is delighted by the gesture .

“Every morning they tell me they are preparing to attend Teacher Joy’s class. I had no idea what that was about until I followed them to class. My children have been busy with studies and speak highly about Teacher Joy,” says Mrs Adhiambo.

And so, every morning, Teacher Joy wakes up and heads to the banana shade, where she takes her young cares through the lessons for the day.

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