Johan Garbers 1990


Johan Gregorius Garbers was born at Piet Relief on 19 March 1931. After completing his school career, he trained as a teacher at the University of Pretoria where he obtained the B.Sc. degree and the Higher Diploma in Education. After a few years spent teaching Physical Science and obtaining the B.Ed. and M.Ed. degrees, he went to the Netherlands where he received the degree of D.Litt. et Phil. of the Rijks University at Utrecht in 1958.

On his return to South Africa, he continued studying and obtained the D.Ed. degree at the University of Pretoria in 1961 and the M.Sc. degree at the University of South Africa in 1963. In 1985 an honorary doctorate in Education was conferred upon Dr Garbers by the Rand Afrikaans University.

Dr Garbers began his professional career by teaching from 1954 to 1956. While he was in the Netherlands he held the position of Wetenschappelijke Medewerker at the Rijks University at Utrecht.

Back in South Africa he pursued his academic career by lecturing at the University of Pretoria from 1960 to 1961. Over the period from 1961 to 1979 he was successively Professor and Dean of the Faculties of Education at the University of the North, the University of Port Elizabeth and the Rand Afrikaans University.

In May 1979 Dr Garbers left the academic sphere to be appointed successively Vice-President, Research Development, Human Sciences Research Council (up to September 1979), and President of the HSRC, a position he occupied until July 1989. From 1 August 1989 Dr Garbers was appointed Director-General: National Education, a position he still holds today.

Recognition of the exceptional expertise of Dr Garbers is reflected by his membership of various organisations in the field of human sciences, as well as by various appointments locally and overseas. He serves on, among other bodies, the Scientific Advisory Council of the State President, the Advisory Council for Universities and Technikons, the Claude Harris Leon and Percy Fox Foundations' Advisory Board, as well as being Chairman of the Certification Board for Technikon Education. He is also a member of, among other institutions, the International Society for the Study of Behavioral Development and of the World Associ­ation for the Advancement of Educational Research. He also has honorary membership of the Psychology Association of South Africa.

As a researcher Dr Garbers has made substantial contributions to science, covering inter alia the following ground: The nature and development of the adolescent in different cultures and ecological contexts; graduation trends in South Africa; the inner life of the child and its educational implications; learning readiness and compensative education; education in big cities; implementation research in education and research methodology and management. He has also been a member of the head committees of national education programmes on the provision of education in the RSA, intergroup relations and research methodology.

Over eighty scientific publications in book form and particularly in scientific journals have appeared from his pen, and he is a much sought-after and valued speaker at scientific congresses.

Dr Garbers has been honoured by various bodies for his outstanding achievements in the field of research. He has received various HSRC awards for major research projects, a bursary from the Nederland-Zuidafrikaanse Vereniging and an Oppenheimer Travelling Fellowship. He has also received the Stals Prize for Education of the Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns, the medal of honour of the SA Association for the Promo­tion of Education, the merit award of the Federasie van Rapport­ryerskorpse for research publications on urban education, the Leon/Fox Foundations' Community Relations Award, the Students' Representative Council's Medal of the Rand Afrikaans University and an honorary professorship of the University of Pretoria.

In the light of these distinguished achievements and also in view of Dr Garbers' exceptional contribution to the establishment of the University of Port Elizabeth twenty-five years ago, it is a par­ticular privilege for the Senate and Council of the University of Port Elizabeth in the year of its Silver Jubilee to confer the degree of Doctor Philosophiae, honoris causa, on Johan Gregorius Garbers.