Background, Training and Role of Facilitators
The community colleges, through their literacy coordinators, are responsible for training facilitators. Since the number of untrained facilitators is so small, trained facilitators often are asked to train their co-workers in addition to their already heavy responsibilities. An in-service training program had been established by only one of the colleges included in the study. In this region, untrained facilitators receive two weeks of training prior to beginning work, to help them understand their instructional role and to become familiar with curriculum materials and teaching methods. Both trained and untrained facilitators in this region are encouraged to attend regular in-service training programs which provide professional development activities and an opportunity for isolated facilitators to share ideas and concerns.
All the facilitators work very hard and receive little encouragement or feedback on how they are progressing. They all know the work they are doing is important; their students tell them so. They are dedicated to improving the situation of under-educated adults in their communities. But they are expected by their employers (the provincial government and the community) to "prevent illiteracy from further manifesting itself in New Brunswick" (4), and to do so with little remuneration, no training, few resources, almost no funds, and poor equipment. That they are succeeding is remarkable. That more than half of them are becoming de-motivated, distressed and burnt out in the process is the logical outcome of a system which neither addresses nor meets nor appears concerned about the needs of these dedicated workers.
The government's policy is succeeding by placing the burden on the shoulders of women who are unwilling to demand more from their employers or the government. Perhaps these women represent the vanguard of a new breed of worker: someone who cycles between the workplace and unemployment on the basis of available contract work and who, therefore, has no assurance of future work, no long-term benefits such as a pension plan, sick leave or dental coverage, no opportunities for professional or remunerative advancement, and no opportunities for professional development.
Economic Solutions for Educational Problems
Recently, the New Brunswick Commission on Excellence in Education published a report on post-secondary education which states: "Nothing matters so much to the success of an educational enterprise as well-selected, well-trained, well-motivated, well-respected, well-supported, well-rewarded and well-administered teachers" (5). Apparently the New Brunswick authorities have not taken this statement to heart. They do not appear to realize that an untrained, de-motivated, isolated, poorly paid teaching staff is unlikely to survive long enough to accomplish the government's policy objective of eradicating illiteracy by the year 2000. Moreover, they are not likely to realize this for some time since the criteria used to hire staff and the continuing economic recession mean that there will always be dozens of unemployed teachers willing to take on the role of facilitator for at least one contract.