The Education Cycle
Since education was touted as the meritocratic leveler and the path to better jobs (and hence more of a different kind of merit which got conflated with the first kind), everyone got competitive on education. This resulted in jobs that were linked with providing education, and then in paying more for good educators.
This was OK as long as such jobs remained more-or-less civil and more or less a public service.
Then, the more educated people realised that if they became less civil and less a public service, they could earn more. But that would subject them to the stresses and pressures of the private sector, so they would have to do better than the public sector.
So they did, and this led to lower average competency in the public sector, since only the good ones survived in the private sector, and those who survived earned more than those who remained in the public sector.
The people of the small island thus learned that getting a better education equipped you to influence the market such that costs would go up but service quality declined. And in addition, you would have to go to the private sector for the better education while being made to endure the public sector one by law (and human expectations).
And so they all lived unhappily ever after, running a Red Queen's Race.