Giving Back Through Education

When George Francis was a child his grandmother, who cared for him, could not afford even the few dollars it would cost to send him to school. Enter John Costigan, an Irish Catholic priest who had come to Tanzania to work—he offered to sponsor young George’s education. Francis went on to attain his lawyer’s degree and find successful work as an advocate in Arusha, a city a few hours from Karatu.

Costigan Primary School
A framed photo of John Costigan overlooks the headmaster’s desk as a reminder of the school’s roots.

But about 10 years ago, the retired attorney’s dream to repay the man who changed his life as young boy was too strong to ignore.

Francis started Costigan Primary School, named after his childhood benefactor, with only five students. Today it has grown to be one of the region and country’s top schools, with nearly 500 students.

“Education is the groundwork of everything,” Francis says. “If someone took me from dark to light, why not me do the same?”

Costigan Primary School
Students receive a healthy lunch during the school day, often the most substantial meal they eat daily.

Maasai Partners currently sends three students to Costigan Primary School and one to the nearby kindergarten, and all four are doing very well.

Francis has translated his gratitude for the rare chance he was given to rise above the poverty and difficult circumstances in which he was raised into a school that seeks to give that same opportunity to area children. The school is growing rapidly, as talented and passionate staff help students achieve strong results.Francis says the ones who do best are those who come from the hardest and furthest backgrounds. Students and teachers alike are inspired by the attention and priority the Tanzanian government gives those with highest scores as they pursue higher education at schools for the gifted.

As in other private schools, the children learn Swahili and English alongside other subjects—many arrive knowing only tribal languages.

To keep up with technology, school administrators are also striving to offer more computer studies. We are quite impressed by the rapid growth and high-quality education Tanzanian leaders are effecting at Costigan to bring it into competition as the number one area school.

Costigan Primary School
Costigan Founder George Frances (right) stands with the school’s head teacher; both are passionate about delivering a top-notch education to as many area youth as possible.

We look forward to upcoming expansion at the institution’s nursery and secondary school and to see more students excelling in their studies. Check out pictures from school life in Karatu, or help sponsor a student at Costigan here.


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