Enhancing Transition and Bridging the Gap? An Analysis of the Implications of the Re-introduction of Bridging Courses in Kenya

  • 31 Jul 2023
  • 3 Mins Read
  • 〜 by Brian Otieno

“Education then, beyond all other devices of human origin, is a great equalizer of the conditions of men — the balance wheel of the social machinery.” — Horace Mann, pioneering American educationist, 1848.

It remains the dream of every child to pursue education as the pathway to basking in the glory of their dreams. This dream is based on a path that emanates from pre-primary, into primary, high school and subsequently into tertiary institutions of learning. While transitioning from pre-primary into primary and subsequently from primary to high school is not hard, the transition from high school to university or college is fraught with numerous challenges. These challenges include funding inadequacies, and stringent entry requirements among others, and have presented an uphill task for many students.

In appreciating the role of education, as per the succinct words of Horace Mann and the different challenges that come with accessing it, the government last week directed the re-introduction of bridging and pre-university entry courses. The Cabinet approved the re-introduction of bridging courses as a way of ensuring more students from high school can access university education in the country. Basing this on its pledge to enhance access to education, the government reiterated that this aligns with the Bottom-Up Economic Transformation Agenda (BETA).

Bridging certificate programme and pre-university programme

In the Despatch from Cabinet, the Cabinet affirmed that the re-introduction is aimed at giving a lifeline to learners who had not clocked the requisite cut-off points as well as the cluster requirements for admission into their preferred courses. The implementation model around the re-introduction is to be modelled around similar programmes offered in the UK, Australia, and South Africa through two key pillars, the Bridging Certificate Programme, and the Pre-University Programme.

In a move that has been welcomed by stakeholders within the educational sector including parents, educators and students among others, the proposed Bridging Certificate Programme aims to create an interlink that learners who have the potential for higher education but did not meet the initial prerequisites for direct admission into tertiary institutions, will rely on to eventually access higher education.

Additionally, the mooted Pre-University Programme is anticipated to focus on providing targeted support to students who might not have met specific cluster requirements for their desired courses. By providing a platform for extra learning opportunities, this pillar’s aim is empowering students by boosting their foundational knowledge alongside building them to be able to meet the admission prerequisites.   

Part of the solution to the university financing challenge

One of the greatest existential threats faced by institutions of higher learning is the financing conundrum, more specifically financial sustainability. Institutions of higher learning in Kenya are largely grappling on how to deal with the financing problem more so in the wake of the ever-shrinking national cake. Parallel programmes are no longer attracting learners as they used to, posing greater financial challenges to these institutions.

Amidst the calls for revenue diversification and the introduction of a new funding model by the government, the re-introduction of bridging courses and pre-university programmes will serve as revenue raising mechanisms for institutions of higher learning other than the allocations from government and fees from the programmes they offer.

Opportunity for active learning

Looking at the models as applied by Australia and the US, these programmes embody a teaching style that exemplifies active learning allowing students to engage in learning processes and procedures. With active engagement in learning, students are encouraged and empowered to contribute to issues, question concepts and stretch their thinking. The product is that students can develop and hone independent learning and critical thinking skills. These skills not only help them when they join university but also come in handy in life exploits.

These programmes are also proper channels for the government to increase uptake of marginalized subsets of the community into education, increasing the participation of such target equity groups in the national agenda.

Enabler of sustainable and intergenerational learning

The world we live in today is dynamic. As a result, every stage of life is predisposed in every stage of life. Moreover, despite demographic underpinnings, concepts are shared. With technology, learning is now multidimensional, and people of all ages have opened themselves up to learning. Intergenerational learning connotes the mutual learning relationship between the old and the young. Through the interactive and non-stringent learning methodologies under the pre-university programmes, knowledge sharing between persons of different age groups is seamless and effective.


The transformational impact of pre-university and bridging programmes cannot be underestimated. To the learner, they are able to appreciate the potential and ability fully before getting into full-blown higher education. For society, well-equipped and rounded professionals are the products who contribute greatly to the development agenda. The benefits to the institutions speak for themselves, including expanded revenues.

This policy shift proposed by the government is timely. Social impact programmes, in conformity with the ESG pillars, are areas for exploration by corporates owing to this shift. Education still remains the greatest equalizer!