Journal directory listing - Vol.67(2022) - Journal of Research in Education Sciences【67(1)】March

Educational Administration Transformation as Educational System Reform: Reconstructing the Provincial Administration System of the Education Department in Late-Qing China Author: Yu-Wen Chou (Department of Education, National Taiwan Normal University)

Vol.&No.:Vol. 67, No. 1
Date:March 2022
Pages:95-121
DOI:https://doi.org/10.6209/JORIES.202203_67(1).0004

Abstract:
When a nation reforms its educational system, its educational administration system must also transform. For example, Education Act 1944 in Great Britain replaced the Board of Education with the Ministry of Education. A similar change in the educational system occurred in late-Qing China. Qing Dynasty established a modern Western-style educational system in 1904, the Gui-mao school system, which borrowed from the Japanese educational system. Before 1904, China had a three-tier administrative system for governing traditional schools and academies at the central, provincial, and local levels. The educational commissioner of each province, nominated by the throne every 3 years, supervised all government schools in the prefectures and counties and managed examinations for admissions and the selection of qualified candidates for the civil service examination. Although their rank and status were lower than those of governors-general, they had the power to monitor and impeach governors-general as a mechanics of checks and balances. The officials from the old system continued their work under the new school system introduced in 1904. The civil service examination was abolished in 1905, and the Ministry of Education was established at the same year. The duties and power of the previous educational commissioners were shared with the governors-general or governors. Thus, power disputes and conflicts gradually emerged, and the ranking of educational commissioners became problematic. In response, the government reconstructed the provincial administration system in the education department.
This topic warrants investigation, but most books have only explored the history of the educational administration system in modern China and the new Ministry of Education from a general perspective. Some journal articles have analyzed changes in the roles of educational commissioners and the directors of education and their educational visits to Japan. However, few studies have analyzed the reconstruction of the educational administration system from the perspective of necessity at the middle (provincial) level of government or the power conflicts between the state and provinces. This article explores the reconstruction of the provincial administration system in the education department between 1904 and 1911 through a historical method and investigation of sources of internal and external criticism. The author mainly used primary sources and official documents such as the Ministry of Education Gazette, A Collection of Reports and Orders of Ministry of Education, a collection of educational codes and regulations, works by key reform figures, newspapers, and journals. This article consists of six parts: an introduction, a description of the system before the reform, a list of causes and motivations for the reform, a description of the terms and nomination of new directors of education and their power relations with other officials, an analysis of unsolved disputes, and the conclusion.
In 1904, key educational reformer, Governor-General Chi-Tung Chang, proposed a plan to establish a provincial education office controlled by the governor-general as a part of guidelines for educational reform. The new education offices were in charge of all new Western-style schools and paralleled the previous educational commissioner system. Therefore, a dual-track system of educational administration was temporarily established in the provinces. Thus, some provinces, such as Chili, Kiangsi, and Chekiang, followed the approach of Hubei Province, and others kept the old system. From 1904 to 1906, senior officials proposed seven reform initiatives to resolve contradictions and conflicts between the old and new systems: (1) retaining the educational commissioners but changing their terms to enable them to coexist with provincial education offices and share power with the governors-general, (2) abolishing the educational commissioner system and allowing the provincial education office to manage education, (3) replacing the educational commissioners with superintendents, as in Japan, (4) abolishing the provincial education office but retaining the educational commissioners and adjusting their duties and qualifications, (5) abolishing the educational commissioners and renominating the educational inspectors under the control of the governors-general, (6) abolishing the educational commissioners altogether, and (7) appointing a new director of education under the governor-general’s control to replace the educational commissioner. These proposals reflected the ideas and interests of the ministers of education and governors-general; all these proposals intended to control education in the provinces. The last initiative was adopted, and a director of education and an education office were established for each province. The directors’ rank was low, and they were under the governor-general’s control but could be nominated and evaluated by the ministers of education, resulting in a compromise.
However, this reconstruction of the provincial organization system changed the power relations in the education system between the state and provinces considerably. Power disputes and conflicts, including those between the central and provincial governments, those between the director of education and governors-general, those among the director of education, governors-general, and the Ministry of Education, and those between the director of education and other ministries, gradually emerged. The appointment of the director of education was the most notable change among the seven initiatives because it required the reallocation of abolished educational commissioners, their staff, and financial resources for education in the provinces. These problems created substantial challenges for the new director of education. In addition, the Qing government reorganized its provincial administration of the education department. As a result, three critical problems arose. The first problem was the necessity of the provincial administration of the education system and whether it should have been a provisional or permanent agency. The second problem was determining to whom power over education in the provinces should belong: either ruled by the governors-general or governors, or ruled by the ministers of education. The third problem was determining whether the nature of educational administration system and provincial agencies would be general or professional administration; this resulted in a dual leadership system inthe provinces.
The power disputes between the provinces and state have remained unsolved from the establishment of the Republic China in 1912 until the present. Therefore, the reconstruction of the provincial administration system in the education department of late-Qing China should be investigated to benefit educational reformers.

Keywords:provincial system of educational administration, educational reform, late Qing, director of education, educational commissioner

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APA FormatChou, Y.-W. (2022). Educational Administration Transformation as Educational System Reform: Reconstructing the Provincial Administration System of the Education Department in Late-Qing China. Journal of Research in Education Sciences, 67(1), 95-121. https://doi.org/10.6209/JORIES.202203_67(1).0004