24 May 2012

Secretary of State for International Development visited The Open University today

The Secretary of State for International Development, Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell MP, visited The Open University today (Thursday 24th May), where he viewed a portable device being developed by Open University scientists to improve diagnosis of Tuberculosis in Africa. He was joined by MP for Milton Keynes North, Mark Lancaster.

On the tour, Mr Mitchell and Mr Lancaster met those working on the diagnostic tool, known as a mass spectrometer, which was initially developed by the team for the Rosetta space mission. Scientists in the Open University’s Centre for Earth, Planetary, Space and Astronomical Research have been working with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Cranfield University, Birmingham University and the Wellcome Trust to develop the tool for use in the field in Africa, rather than the laboratory, making Tuberculosis diagnosis more cost-effective and rapid. The project is part of a wider portfolio of technology transfer activities that the team is engaged in.

Mr Mitchell was met by Martin Bean, Vice-Chancellor of The Open University, who gave him an introduction to The Open University. He was also shown a short film about three ongoing projects; Health Education and Training (HEAT), English in Action (EiA) and Teacher Education in sub-Saharan Africa (TESSA), and met with other Open University personnel.

Martin Bean, Vice-Chancellor, said: “The Open University’s international programmes touch the lives of millions all over the world, and we are extremely proud of what we do. We were delighted to welcome Andrew Mitchell here today, and to exhibit some of our work. We are incredibly excited about the impact we will make in the future, to some of the world’s poorest people, through our strong partnerships with DfID, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and other major partners."

Mr Mitchell added: "Britain is home to some of the world's greatest innovators and inventors. We are harnessing this creative energy to transform the lives of the world's poorest people. Invention and Innovation are at the heart of everything we do and these world-renowned scientists, researchers and academics help us achieve the best possible results. I was impressed by the equipment and results produced by the Open University, which has a direct impact on pioneering projects improving the health and education of millions of the world’s poorest people."

Editor's Notes
Health Education and Training
HEAT is a radical programme launched in early 2011 by The Open University with a bold ambition – to reach and help train 250,000 frontline healthcare workers across sub-Saharan Africa by 2016. Using our expertise in international development and distance learning, and supported to date by c.$4.5m in funding from UNICEF and The Allan and Nesta Ferguson Charitable Trust, we have launched HEAT to help revolutionise the training and education of, and access to, frontline healthcare workers across the region.

English in Action
English In Action (EiA) is a major Department for International Development-funded programme initiated by the Government of Bangladesh. The OU is working with international management firm BMB Mott MacDonald, BBC World Service Trust and local partners, to improve English language skills for 25 million people in Bangladesh. Following a successful initial phase from 2008, a further three-year contract for EiA was signed in 2011. The OU is leading in two areas of the project which are 1) primary and secondary teacher training delivered through school-based professional development, enhanced with mobile technologies, including mobile phones, and 2) cross-project research, monitoring and quality assurance.

Teacher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa
TESSA – Teacher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa – is a pan-African network of teacher educators working to improve teacher education and training in Africa using Open Educational Resources (OERs). The Open University is a founding member of TESSA. More than 400,000 teachers, many working under highly disadvantaged circumstances, have benefited from TESSA resources. The TESSA network has developed an extensive range of high-quality multilingual, audio and text OERs to support improvements in teachers’ classroom practice. The resources are designed for all teachers, including those with little or no formal training.

Andrew Mitchell MP
Andrew Mitchell MP was the Member of Parliament for Gedling from 1987 to 1997. During this period he held office as a Government Whip and as Minister for Social Security. He also served as a Vice-Chairman of the Conservative Party from 1992 to 1993. In 2001 he was re-elected to Parliament as MP for Sutton Coldfield. In November 2003, he was appointed Shadow Minister for Economic Affairs. From September 2004 until the end of the Parliamentary term, he was Shadow Minister for Home Affairs. Following the General Election in May 2005 Andrew joined the Shadow Cabinet and was appointed Shadow Secretary of State for International Development. Following the 2010 General Election Andrew was appointed Secretary of State for International Development.

back to All News stories

back to previous page

back to top