Education in Taiwan during the Ch'ing Dynasty, 1683--1895: A case study in cultural colonialism?

Date of Completion

January 1995


History, Asia, Australia and Oceania|Education, History of|Education, Philosophy of




Much of Taiwan's historical, social and educational development has been neglected, or even distorted. During the rule of the Ch'ing Dynasty (1683-1895), Taiwan remained largely a remote, undeveloped frontier. The Taiwanese social, economic, linguistic, cultural and political institutions differed from those of China. Similarly unique was the development of the Taiwanese systems of education and of the imperial civil service examinations. Although extensive studies have been devoted to Chinese education and the imperial examination system, little scholarly attention has been given to the evolution of the education system in Taiwan.^ This study employs a cultural dependency theory in cultural colonialism as the theoretical framework for the study. The research utilizes a wide variety of original, primary and secondary sources available in Taiwan to explore the aims and administration of education, the schooling, and the imperial examination system in Taiwan during the Ch'ing Dynasty.^ The focus of this study is on providing an historical analysis of the development of educational thought and practice in Taiwan during the Ch'ing Dynasty. After presenting the background of education in Taiwan during the Ch'ing Dynasty, the study examines and provides answers to the following specific research questions: (1) How did the administration of education function? (2) How did the formal system of schooling function? (3) How did the imperial civil service examination system function? (4) What are the criteria of an educationally or culturally colonialist situation needed to evaluate an educational system in Taiwan? (5) Was the educational situation in Taiwan during the Ch'ing Dynasty one kind of cultural colonialism?^ The study concludes by arguing that Taiwanese education under the Ch'ing was, in a number of significant ways, partially colonialist in nature. However, it is further argued that it was the examination system, rather than the system of education, that was in some measure colonialist. The colonialist imperial examination system pervaded China, and was not limited to Taiwan. Colonialism, as was implemented through the examination process, was unconscious, in that none intended to colonize Taiwan and none questioned the justice of the system of education in Taiwan during the Ch'ing Dynasty. ^