Teachers and learners at Sithembele Matiso High School in New Crossroads were thrilled when members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), from an army support base in Wynberg, visited the school on Wednesday last week for a flag hoisting parade.According to the organisers, the soldiers also donated a rugby kit, sanitary towels as well two national flags.The parade was aimed at changing people’s perception about the army and to bridge the gap between the military and various communities. Learners also had the opportunity to learn more about the army and careers in the military. Vuyani Xayiya, the deputy principal at the host school, said this was the beginning of a partnership between his school and the SANDF. “This is a historical moment for the school, which is notorious for negative things(in the comunity). The visit will elevate our reputation and boost learner self-esteem,” said Xayiya. He added that the school was on an upward trajectory. During last year’s matric results, they achieved an 85.5% pass rate.He said the SANDF visit showed that they were not ashamed of the school. Parent Sylvia Sebezo said it was the first time she had witnessed such an event. “It changes the perception that we have about soldiers. We only know them as people who shoot to kill. Today they showed us that they are also human beings and are caring about the society,” said SobezoGrade 11 learner Akhona Zenzile(16), said the event was an inspiration. She intends to join the army after matric, she announced. “I grew up as a scout during my primary school days, and I like my independence, not to be controlled. And by having career expo at the school, they are also enlighting us about other careers that the department is doing, which we didn’t know about,” said Zenzile. She said she was stunned to know that soldiers can also be entertainers, as they are only known as aggressors. Mzuvukile Madondile, the SANDF corporate communications officer, said their aim is to give back to the community by educating the community on their operations. “We visit schools in the Cape Flats and recruite learners, particularly those who are doing Grade 12, to join us,” he said. He added that career expositions try to encourage learners to focus on their studies.“We have various departments, our own doctors, engineers, accountants, media personnel and others. The requirements are a Grade 12 certificate and the applicants must be less than 23 years old. But a graduate must be under 27 years old,”said Madondile. Application forms are available at the Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town.