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13-08-2007 - Commonwealth Scholarship Awarded Dr. Aminu Shittu, an Assistant Lecturer with the Department of Public Health and Animal Production, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Usmanu Danfodiyo University Sokoto in northwestern Nigeria has won a Commonwealth Scholarship Commission’s scholarship to support his studies on the University of Edinburgh’s International Animal Health online (Distance Learning) MSc programme. He is one of the scholarship beneficiaries allocated to successful applicants from the developing West African countries.

The programme’s duration is three years, with years one and two structured into three terms of eleven weeks, five weeks of teaching, then a breather week, followed by another five weeks; year three is the dissertation year. Each course consists of core learning materials, case studies or online exercises, recommended reading etc. Students log onto the University of Edinburgh's website and enter the Virtual Learning Environment of WebCT in order to access this course, new materials are made available every Monday morning. There is no compulsory residential aspect to the programme. “The programme will be of immense benefit to both myself and my students of Animal Production and Preventive Medicine, and the entire Sokoto State in the northwestern Nigeria”, said Dr. Shittu, “this is so because Sokoto is the second-largest in cattle production in Nigeria and shares an extensive international boundary with Niger Republic, resulting in trans-border movement of camels, horses, cattle, sheep and goats with obvious epidemiological and public health implications”.

Students are expected to engage with the course between 7 and 14 hours a week, this includes reading the core materials and articles, working on assignments and using the discussion boards. Assessment is continuous, there are no formal examinations, and instead student has written pieces of work to be submitted throughout the term. One of the main components of the online programme is the discussion board. This is a forum for students, the course team and subject experts to interact. Students come from around the globe, each bringing their unique perspectives and experiences, the discussion boards are a perfect opportunity to exchange information and learn from one another. There is also a permanent record of all correspondence. Student finds prompts throughout the web pages and lecture notes for topics to discuss and think about. There's also a non-compulsory summers schools at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. These provide a perfect opportunity of students and staff to meet one another.

In terms of resources, Edinburgh is able to provide students with a copy of the CABI animal health compendium and some of the software required for the epidemiology course in term 3. All core course materials can be directly accessed from the computer. The programme is commencing on 1st October, 2007. Dr. Shittu thanks Professors Adeyanju and Daneji, of his Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, for their Referee/Recommendation Reports to the University of Edinburgh. Dr. Shittu could be reached through the following address:

Dr. Aminu Shittu.
Department of Public Health and Animal Production,
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine,
Usmanu Danfodiyo University,
P.M.B 2254,
Sokoto, NIGERIA.
Mobile: +(234)803-685-7519.

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