Advocate & Director, Legal Resources Centre
No one wants to fight to get the education basics such as desks and chairs in schools, but if that’s what needs to be done then Jason Brickhill is ready for the challenge. The 33-year-old advocate is director of the constitutional litigation unit at public interest law firm, the Legal Resources Centre (LRC).
This is the firm responsible for litigation that forced government to abolish mud schools and fill empty teacher posts, among other cases, launched in the name of high-quality education for all South Africans.
Brickhill is responsible for preparing cases to be fought in the highest court in the land on behalf of poor people whose constitutional rights have been violated. The seemingly insurmountable education crisis and resistance from powerful players in society are hurdles to achieving quality education for all, Brickhill says, but fortunately determination was a quality he acquired at a young age. Born in Harare, Zimbabwe he comes from activist parents who survived an assassination attempt by apartheid agents in 1987.
Their selflessness compelled Jason to use his education to fight for the rights of others. Having graduated top of his law class from the University of Cape Town in 2003, he tackled law articles at a Johannesburg commercial law firm and was swiftly awarded a scholarship to study further at Oxford University.
He graduated with a master’s degree in international human rights law in 2010. Since then he has appeared or argued in eight cases before the Constitutional Court. Even if it won’t fix the whole crisis in South Africa’s education system the law can, one case at a time, make a difference to people and communities, Brickhill says, and this is what brings him the most satisfaction.
“What I love most about my job is that each classroom that is built, each desk that is provided and each teacher who is appointed as a result of one of our cases makes a real difference to pupils who did not have those things before.” — Victoria John