Any attempt to address inequalities in the provision and outcomes of schooling can only be addressed from the “original position” of equality—that is, from behind a veil of ignorance. Acting from behind such a shroud, one is unable to know in advance which layer of society they may come to inhabit, what their ethnicity may be, where they may come to reside, who their parents may be, what talents they may come to nurture, what their life goals may turn out to be, what their particular life plan may develop into and what opportunities, advantages, benefits and privileges they may be afforded or denied by virtue of their birth.
From behind such a cloak, policy makers and builders of a new ecology of schooling in the West Indies must always choose liberties, policies, institutions, opportunities, outcomes, and legislation that will minimise harm to the least advantaged person in society; because they simply cannot know beforehand who they themselves may turn out to be- when the cloak is lifted. They must invoke the maximin rule as their principle and must always distribute the greatest benefit to the least advantaged.
If they are the least advantaged person in society and they choose a particular ecological design, set of policies, legislation and institutional types that will give them more rather than fewer liberties, more rather than fewer opportunities and more rather than less income and wages, they will make the same decisions, wanting more rather than less, even if they turn out to be the least unfavourably affected person in society.
This suggests that one way to think about equality is that it establishes an equal floor more than an equal ceiling. Scrutinizing the darkness on the horizon at the close of last century, unmasked a concentration of crises, that called upon us to invent new patterns to deal with multiple identities, citizenship, immigration, inequality and instability.
The West Indies is not disconnected from nor is it untouched by this assemblage of pivots and their extensions into the twenty-first century. Our project must be to engage our unique past and to create a future of immense originality for our children if they are to find their places in the world.