St. Matthew's Pomona Valley sits in one of the most beautiful parts of Belize, in the valley where the Citrus Products of Belize processing factory nestles amongst the orange groves.

Most of the children here come from fruit pciking and farming families.  Many of the mothers work as well as the fathers.

There are around 280 children on the role, 10 teachers and a Principal.  The current Principal, Mrs. McCoon, is retiring this year after 41 years in teaching.

The school has a feeding programme and a school garden. and is next to St. Matthew's church.  The buildings are adequate, although the classrooms are very crowded and some lessons take place outside to give the children more room.  We re hoping to build a new building in the near future with the help of Belize's Social Investment Fund.  Most classrooms are located in the main building and are divided from each other by blackboards.  there is just a tin roof which is makes the classrooms very hot and also very noisy when it rains.

The school has a feeding programme which is aided by Anglican friends in the UK.  Since the feeding programme started, the school's academic performance has steadily improved, and St. Matthew's is now the school of preference for most parents in the area.

There is a school garden which grows vegetables for the feeding programme, which is a project helped by students from the University of Arkansas.

Many of the schools buildings are wooden, and there is a constant war against termites, necessitating continuous repairs.  In some areas, for example the kitchen, the war looks like being lost, so new building are going to be required.

St. Matthew's achieves good results, with close to 100% passing Primary School Exam in 2010.  Many children however are unable to go on the High School due to poverty, and are consigned to the citrus industry or early motherhood without having a chance for something better.

There is also an issue of keeping children in school when they are needed by parents to work in the groves, and the Principal frequently heads off in her battered old vehicle to physically go and bring the children from the groves back to school.


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