Sabahan, Japanese students in Sakura Science Exchange Programme


A group photo of teachers and students from SM All Saints and Hokkaido Sapporo Keisei High School. Dr Mary Gambidau and Keiichi Kojima are seated at centre.

KOTA KINABALU (Jan 14): SM All Saints welcomed five Japanese high school students to Kota Kinabalu recently.

The students were here under the Sakura Science Exchange Programme between SM All Saints and Hokkaido Sapporo Keisei High School.

The programme aims to expose the younger generation to gain knowledge as well as increase the awareness of conservation of the natural environment, through fields such as biodiversity, waste management and also forest conservation.

After a four-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the Sakura Science Exchange Programme, which began in 2015, resumes in 2024 with much anticipation and excitement.

The Japanese students are Yugen Hirokawa, 18, Honami Sasaya, 18, Nonoa Mori, 16, Kouji Nagahama, 17, and Kohta Nishida, 17. These three boys and two girls were accompanied by Keiichi Kojima, a teacher from Hokkaido Sapporo Keisei High School and Professor Emeritus Masami Kaneko from Rakuno Gakuen University.

During their time with SM All Saints from January 9 to 11, the Japanese students stayed with host families of four selected students from SM All Saints – Jwell Recky, Aaron Stanley Fredolin, Nivolet Nychell Ronny and Muhammad Afiq Fadhullah bin Norali @ Ag Norali, all Form 3 students. In turn, Jwell, Aaron and Nivolet, together with their accompanying Science teacher, Siti Azizah binti Md Yussof will leave for Sapporo, Japan on January 27.

During that time, both the students from SM All Saints and Hokkaido Sapporo Keisei High School are expected to present their findings and share their experiences during the programme at the Hokkaido International Science Fair. There they will also be joined by high school students from India, who are also a part of the programme.

At the welcome meeting with the school, the principal of SM All Saints, Dr Mary Gambidau, stated that at exchanges such as these, there is always a great opportunity for learning – not just about things related to science and technology, but also about things that go beyond the classroom – different cultures, a different way of life, and perhaps, even to learn a little bit more about ourselves. For these reasons, there is a need for a continued collaboration between the two schools to enhance and create more opportunities for students to explore other areas in STEM education.

During his speech, Keiichi expressed his gratitude toward the hospitality of the school as well as his excitement to learn more about conservation efforts here in Sabah.

He also expressed interest in further collaborating with SM All Saints in future exchange programmes, as he feels that his students will also benefit from such an experience.

As part of the programme, all the students involved will conduct research activities on microplastics at the beach in Tanjung Lipat as well as an educational visit to the Kota Kinabalu Wetlands Centre before parting ways with the SM All Saints’ students.

The Japanese students will then move on to the Kinabalu National Park, Poring Hot Springs as well as the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park before heading back to Japan on January 14.