The Story of Joyce Ajok

Passionate about early childhood education, Joyce rose above being a war-orphan and opened a nursery school in her community.


Joyce Ajok is a believer in early childhood education. The fact that she opened and directs a nursery school at the age of 21 is a tribute to her vision, perseverance, commitment and hard work.

It is also a tribute to UMECS’s decision to include Joyce in the first cohort of students it sponsored in 2005 at the inception of the Northern Uganda Education Programme. Joyce was a 15 year-old orphan enduring a brutal war that was destroying her community. Ordinarily, there would be no chance someone in Joyce’s circumstances would ever have the support to enroll in secondary school, let alone higher education. Joyce’s life was statistically heading nowhere.

We enrolled Joyce at Y. Y. Okot Memorial College (Secondary School) in Kitgum District in 2005 where she did well. Based on her O-level results, she was eligible to move forward to A-level in anticipation of going straight on to university but Joyce had been nurturing a passion for early childhood education. Instead of guiding her to an A-level program, we sought admission at J&S Nursery School Teachers College in Gulu. Joyce was admitted to their one-year certificate level program and excelled. She did so well that when she graduated, she was offered a teaching position at their nursery school.

She accepted the position and loved the profession. She also thought about the many pre-school children in her home district of Pader. How could she enroll them in nursery school? She had an idea. Start a nursery school in Pader. Together with a colleague, this is what she did. In 2011, Holy Angel Nursery School opened, with Joyce as the Director and one of the teachers. Almost immediately, many parents enrolled their pre-school children at Holy Angel.

The school has been a huge success and serves hundreds of pre-school children. Joyce plans to eventually enroll in a degree program in early childhood education so she can advance her skills and knowledge to better serve the children of Pader with early childhood education. We will be there with Joyce every step of the way.