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Posted by admin7 on April 02, 2016

The saying “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime” is one that no one can confidently tell the origin. One thing is sure though, and that is the meaning of the proverb rings true: the ability to work is of greater benefit to one than a one-off handout.

From experience and cases in point, this is one proverb that is really true. It has been seen through history that while handouts  can be good in the short term, this is possibly not the best and most optimal long term strategy. A few examples come to mind:



Parents and Children

When you look at children that are given everything they ask for with no sense of responsibility or appreciation, they do not turn out to be the model citizens their wealthy parents would hope for.  For kids that are made to understand that you need to work to achieve all you need in life, they tend to be more successful and responsible.



The Church in Africa

With the coming of the church in Africa, the missionaries tried to give incentives to get the people to attend services and be committed in church. This did not meet with the heartfelt commitment expected from the worshippers.

When the missionaries started sending intelligent children to get an education and become something in life, the perception of the people changed. The motivation to learn and be better came from within.  Internal and not external.  In effect, teaching one to be self-reliant and independent pays much more.


Multinational Companies

A few multinational companies have taken to giving weekly handouts to the youths of parts of Nigeria; this was as requested and agreed upon by the youths of those communities. Results of this have been that the said youths believe that they do not need to work; neither do they need to invest in their futures.

For those that are given scholarships or jobs on the other hand, it is a whole different ball game. There is a desire to give back to the community and the nation at large.

Morale: It is more worthwhile to teach someone to do something than to do it for them.

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How Do You Teach Someone to Fish?

Formal Education

The basic form of teaching someone to fish is sending them to school. There, a child is taught all they need to form the foundation for their success. Giving this opportunity for learning is the best that anyone can do.

Teaching a Skill

There are those who are talented or gifted in one area or the other that need help in honing those raw skills. Enlisting them in special trainings is of great worth and help to such people.


Giving someone a job is yet another way of teaching someone to fish. Creating independence and responsibility is beneficial to everyone around the person.

Establishing a Trade

There are others with good business sense and acumen. Identifying this and enabling it by establishing one form of trade or the other for them is yet a way of working in this useful saying.

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Benefits of “Teaching Someone to Fish”

If we would actually count this saying as one of great value, then, there must be evident benefits to the society. Indeed, there are quite a few things teaching someone to fish actually does. We will look at them in two parts:


There are two sets of benefits one for the individuals themselves and the other for society:

  • It brings about self-confidence and self-esteem. For others it helps boost the confidence they already had.
  • It makes for responsible individuals in the society. Education opens the eyes of people to understand the value they add to the community in which they reside.


  • The society has more entrepreneurs and more income to the state.
  • There are going to be more job opportunities as a result of those who have learnt to fish establishing trades and starting companies.


How Develop Africa is "Teaching People to Fish”

This is a focus of what we do at Develop Africa - helping people to develop themselves - through educational resources and programs such as tailoring and computer training,  

We invite you to join us in providing the empowering skills and resources that they need to truly change their lives, communities and nations.  

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