On 24 February 2023, SERI director of ligation Jason Brickhill delivered the Inaugural Yoliswa Dwane Memorial Lecture on the occasion of Equal Education's 15-year anniversary. Yoliswa Dwane was one of the co-founders of Equal Education in 2008, alongside Joey Hasson, Doron Isaacs and Lumkile Zani. She was also instrumental in forming Equal Education Law Centre and served on its first board. Dwane sadly died of cancer in October 2022. Today, the Daily Maverick has published the full lecture.
Brickhill’s lecture, entitled ‘Every generation has its struggle – activism and the law in the struggle for social justice’, reflected on Dwane’s commitment and activism during the early stages of Equal Education’s journey as a movement. Before joining SERI, Jason Brickhill worked for Legal Resource Centre (LRC) when it represented Equal Education in a case against the Minister of Education that advocated for introducing norms and standards for school infrastructure. Reflecting on his work with Dwane on the case, Brickhill noted that,
"Yoliswa played a leading role, and she ultimately deposed to the main founding affidavit on behalf of EE. I remember her, during that Norms and Standards time, as being direct, decisive and straight-forward. She was not one for long emails when a short one would do. She was all about the movement and about its objectives, not about getting attention or acclaim."
Brickhill also reflected on his experience of working with Equal Education on the case, celebrating that,
"[it] was an exceptionally difficult client – difficult in all the best ways. The EE people on the cases would engage with every detail, weigh up every tactic and strategy, would debate with their lawyers. This made the work charged and stimulating, produced carefully crafted court papers and a coherent messaging inside and outside the courtroom."
During her time with Equal Education, Dwane prioritised the building of the movement which went beyond growing Equal Education in terms of numbers and instead focused on building institutions and structures and fostering political education. She, along with other leaders like Yana van Leeve, led a youth reading group that met weekly. The group would gather in Khayelitsha every Wednesday evening and critically engage that week’s reading on themes of gender, race, class, and power, debating what it meant for contemporary South Africa.
Brickhill noted that for Dwane, Equal Education was about “building an organisation that contributes to the improvement of the condition of the working class”. Yoliswa Dwane left behind a rich legacy of activism and relentless commitment to equal and quality education for all.
Access the full lecture here, published by the Daily Maverick.