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22 August 2018
Prof Coetzee is retelling old stories in a new book
"Failing to Learn Doomed to repeat" was one of the bookworks on display.

The title of Prof Jan K Coetzee’s latest book, Books & Bones & Other Things, says it all. The book looks into the many aspects that have built our society by presenting in a new way the stories contained in old books collected over the years. 

Prof Coetzee is a Senior Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of the Free State (UFS). Books & Bones & Other Things was launched on 14 August 2018 and coincided with an exhibition of various “bookworks”   art installations by Prof Coetzee that feature old books, sculptures, artefacts, and fossils.
 
Book resulting from research programme 
   

“This is a book on books so the library is the perfect venue to launch a book on old texts as documents of life,” said Prof Coetzee.

For the past seven years he has been directing a Master’s and PhD programme in Sociology called The Narrative Study of Lives. His project, Documents of Life, from which this book came, focuses on a collection of old texts the oldest of which dates back to 1605.

“We live in storytelling societies and for as long as we can remember we have been telling stories. Over time the ability to produce books was born. Any collection of books can tell you a lot about your own life and the society you live in."

“I cannot read the stories of many of these old books because their narratives are closed. I have to re-narrate the books, change the narrative convention and present them in a way that makes sense to me. By combining the books with art and artefacts I want the books to tell their ancient stories in new ways.”

Book launches and intellectual discussions

At the book launch, Prof Corli Witthuhn, Vice-Rector: Research said: “What we have achieved with this launch and exhibition is unbelievable. We always try to create an intellectual space in the library.

“A book such as this is the pinnacle of an academic career. It is multidisciplinary and it looks at the world in a different way. That is what scholarship is about.”

A painting by Robert Hodgins was also handed over to the Johannes Stegmann Gallery, home of the corporate collection of the UFS, at the event. 

News Archive

A huge student turnout for NBT
2010-02-24

Ms Babongile Bomela (seated, left) and Mr Riekie Vickers (seated, right) with some of the first-year students who wrote the NBT's. They both acted as invigilators for the tests.
Photo: Mangaliso Radebe


More than 5 000 first-year students at the University of the Free State (UFS) recently wrote the National Benchmark Tests (NBT).

These tests are used to complement first-year students’ Grade 12 results and provide a profile of student competencies that the university can use to improve the quality of teaching and learning to enhance student success.

This was the first time that the UFS had made use of the NBTs, which were thoroughly piloted at several South African universities during 2009.

“A total of 5 449 students from the Main, South and Qwaqwa Campuses participated in this very ambitious testing process,” said Ms Merridy Wilson-Strydom from the Centre for Higher Education Studies and Development (CHESD) at the UFS.

“Altogether 7 687 test papers were completed. This is an excellent turn-out and highlights our students’ commitment to their studies.”

It was compulsory for all students (excluding those from the Faculty of Health Sciences) to write the Academic and Quantitative Literacy Test (AQL). Students from the Faculties of Economic and Management Sciences as well as Natural and Agricultural Sciences also wrote the Mathematics Tests.

“AQL targets students’ capacity to engage successfully with the demands of academic study in the medium of instruction, and the ability to manage situations or solve problems in a real context that is relevant to higher education study, using basic qualitative information that may be presented verbally, graphically, in tabular or symbolic form,” she explained.

“The Mathematics Test targets students’ ability with regard to mathematical concepts that are formally regarded as part of the school curriculum and tested in the Mathematics Examination Papers 1 and 2.”

The NBTs have been developed with inputs from over 300 academics from all the 23 universities in the country. They are available in English and Afrikaans.
Data integrity is quality-assured by the Assessment Systems Corporation in Michigan, USA, and further interrogated by the Education Testing Services in Princeton, New Jersey, USA.

The NBT results of UFS students will be available by the middle of March 2010. First-year students who do not perform at the required proficiency level in the academic literacy domain will be required to complete a language development module. This module is offered in both English and Afrikaans, depending on the chosen medium of instruction of the student.

Media Release:
Mangaliso Radebe
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2828
Cell: 078 460 3320
E-mail: radebemt@ufs.ac.za  
2 March 2010
 

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