If you educate a boy you educate an individual but if you educate a girl you educate a generation

In the quest to champion and sustain the rights for girls and women to be educated this proverb/quote made it’s way into the human psyche. It has been pushed down our throats especially in the developing countries and we have owned it and run with it: no questions asked.

However, the more I have reflected on this way of thinking the more I clearly see the faults in it.

  1. Do we have to downplay the boy child and men education to champion the rights of the girl and women to education?
  2. What are the results both immediate and in the future of such a standpoint?: push one gender down to elevate the other gender in relation to accessing education
  3. What kind of people both boys and girls, men and women are produced from such a way of thinking?


Education is currently a basic right in most of the world. A basic right articulated in most constitutions of  countries around the world. Whether that is translated in reality is another thing all together.

So is it a really a case of either or when it comes making a decision to educate children? In this 21st Century, are we still being faced with the dilemma of whether to invest in educating a boy or a girl? Sadly, the answer is yes. Marrying off young girls and thus denying them education is still very lucrative in many communities around the world. The boy child is still the favored bet to educate in such communities.

However, even as the education champions are trying to uplift the odds against the girls it is important that this is not doe at the expense of the boy child.

One of the immediate results of championing the education of girls and downplaying that of boys is the increase of the number of girls in school and the decrease of the number of boys. Further along, we continue to see that girls are out performing boys in national exams and most academic outputs like projects and apprenticeships. Further down the road, we continue to see the rise of women in boardrooms and heading major organisations.

However, it is not all rosy. I have and continue to note the rise of a new breed of men. Men who would exist for themselves! They will not lift a finger to do anything for anyone else. They are living up to the proverb, educate a man you educate an individual. These are a crop of men that are surrounded by the strong women who were educated to influence generations and nations. They cower in their presence

The generational influencing women on the other hand have really in a way become burdened with responsibility that in my view should have been shared with the male gender. Instilled in them from the beginning was that education is a privilege being given to them. They had to earn it and after acquiring it, they have to pay for it: it is not for free. I strongly feel that to burden women with such demands of productivity while literally giving the men a pass is a recipe for disaster. Disaster in the social fabric, disaster in the home, disaster in the nation and most importantly disaster in the individuals.


I was raised up and educated under the proverb “educate a girl you educate a nation”. Education was a privilege not a basic right. The way to show gratitude for this privilege was to tow the line, follow the path: get a job, earn money, support yourself and your family. Give back to those that sacrificed to put you there, and pay it forward by perpetuating the mantra in words and action. There is no room for out-layers in this process, there is only one path and if you do not follow it then you have failed.

In all the expectations, I have failed. I am an educated stay at home mum.

The boys who were educated to benefit an individual are indeed benefiting themselves. They were not taught to think about others or the family leave alone the nation or the world at large. The girls who were given the privilege of education are living their end of the bargain. They are influencing generations, benefiting communities, providing for families and impacting nations and the world.

At what cost? May I ask.

At what cost is the proverb being fulfilled – If you educate a boy you educate an individual but if you educate a girl you educate a community/generation

At what cost? To what end?



  • Joan Leteipa

    June 21, 2017 at 5:34 AM

    Well articulated indeed!! The cost is way more than we can scratch though may have been well intentioned at the start. With this in mind, we have a chance to turn the tide one person at a time… Raising a generation that appreciates our complementary roles hence we partner and grow together… Win-win situation. There’s more than enough opportunity for all of us. Together we rise, transforming generations!!!


  • Joan Leteipa

    June 21, 2017 at 5:06 PM

    Very well articulated indeed!! I wanna nurture a generation that knows there’s plenty of opportunity for all of us hence we can win together. Thanks preacher gal…


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