Problems are less acute in CASPs which are attached to well-established, not-for-profit community agencies already organized to provide educational programs. For example, a local John Howard Society is able to provide personal support to the facilitator and additional funds to purchase resources and photocopy essential materials. Problems are most acute in CASPs which are mounted by local literacy councils or management committees brought together for the sole purpose of operating a CASP. In these programs, the facilitator is isolated, the resources and equipment are poor, and few funds are available to purchase essential services. In addition, the committee members do not appear to have the same continuing commitment to the students and the program as can be found in other types of CASPs.
Even though facilitators are employed on a contract basis, they are paid an hourly wage $11.50 per hour for the life of the contract. The management committee has the discretionary power to assign 20 percent of these hours to preparation time (reproducing learning materials, preparing lessons, marking assignments). Some, however, insist that preparations be done on the facilitator's (unpaid) time.
With 4 percent vacation pay, each facilitator is paid $14,352 or $359 per week for a 40-week contract (or about $280 per week after deductions), with eligibility for unemployment insurance at the end of the contract. The facilitator cannot negotiate this rate of pay unless the management committee is willing to raise additional funds in the local community. One facilitator wrote to her management committee: "I have worked in the community college setting and know that a CASP facilitator's work is far more demanding, and yet the salary is one-third less. Is this because most of the facilitators are female? Or conversely, are most of the facilitators female because ... males would not accept not being paid what they are worth? To add insult to injury, the [facilitator is not paid] for traditional school holidays or sick days; there is not even a small pension plan. I suspect that the salary issue alone is likely to cause a high turnover of CASP facilitators; and [the resulting] instability in the classroom could raise the student rate of attrition significantly."
When a group of facilitators wrote to the Minister of State for Literacy to inquire why she had authorized a cutback in the hourly wage paid to facilitators from $16.50 to $11.50, her reply was that the facilitators should be grateful that CASP provided them with an opportunity to work and to gain valuable experience, and that they were being paid a wage similar to that for others employed on a professional service contract (2).
The fact that educators hired to teach in a similar, albeit private and institutionally-based program, often operating next door to the CASP, were being paid $16.00 for exactly the same work appears to be irrelevant. The fact that persons employed on a professional service contract usually negotiate their rate of pay is irrelevant. The fact that the government insists on using the term "facilitator" rather than "teacher" or "instructor" as is used in all other academic upgrading programs, means that CASP employees can be viewed, not as professional educators, but as employees in a "service" occupation. For service workers, an hourly wage of $11.50 is above average. The fact that the facilitator's position has become a "traditional" woman's position means that the government can go on ignoring the problems it has created.