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tidu xuezheng 提督學政, provincial education commissioner

Jun 23, 2016 © Ulrich Theobald

Provincial educational commissioners (tidu xuezheng 提督學政) were during the Qing period 清 (1644-1911) the highest officials responsible for the educational system of a province. The post did already exist during the Ming period 明 (1368-1644), but was more systematically used by the Qing. They appointed from 1726 on an education intendant (tidu xuedao 提督學道) in each province, with the full title qinming tidu xuezheng 欽命提督學政, short tidu xuezheng 提督學政 or xuezheng 學政, also called education-supervising commissioner (duxue shizhe 督學使者, xuezhengshi 學政使), mentors from the Ministry of Rites (dazongshi 大宗師) or education intendants (xuetai 學臺). They supervised all official schools of the province and the education of Confucian students (ru shenyuan 儒生員), their conduct, as well as the education of the local population in general, cultural relics, and scholarship.

During the Ming period provincial education commissioners were selected from regular metropolitan graduates (jinshi chushen 進士出身). They operated independently from the provincial administration, and reported directly to the Ministry of Rites (libu 禮部). Yet judicial matters were handed over to the provincial authorities for judgment. Commissioners were appointed for three-years' terms. In larger provinces the office was occupied by a greater official of rank 4, in smaller ones by junior compilers (bianxiu 編修) of the Hanlin Academy 翰林院. During the Qing period they operated on a temporary basis (qinchai 欽差) and had in fact the same status as governors (xunfu 巡撫) or governors-general (zongdu 總督). It was allowed for provincial education commissioners to investigate issues on lower levels of administration, yet they were controlled by the governors, who had to submit a report about the commissioner's performance. In 1906 the office was renamed tixueshi 提學使 and was subordinated to the provincial governor. It was abolished in 1912.

Source:
Niu Mengqi 牛夢琪 (1998). "Tidu xuezheng 提督學政", in Tang Jiahong 唐嘉弘, ed. Zhongguo gudai dianzhang zhidu da cidian 中國古代典章制度大辭典 (Zhengzhou: Zhongzhou guji chubanshe), 810.