Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Basic Education has congratulated the Eastern Cape for the improvements it has made in its matric results – the biggest increase in the country.- Sign up here to get your 2018 matric resultsCommittee chairperson Nomalungelo Gina said in a statement that the committee was excited with the 2018 matric pass mark, and called on the Department of Basic Education to sustain the improvement and the upward trend.Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga announced the results on Thursday, with Gauteng leading the provinces, followed by the Free State. The percentage pass mark increased from 75.1% to 78.2%."We have noted the continued improvement of the Grade 12 results since 2014, and especially by the Free State province. But the committee wishes to congratulate the Eastern Cape province for the improvement it has made in the 2018 results," Gina said in a statement.- See our Matric Results page."This kind of performance by the province is inspiring and should give all those who were involved in the sector comfort and hope that they can do better. Challenges in the system are there, most of which are not education-related, but impact on the performance of learners. The work that the minister, MECs and the teachers have put into these results is worth commending," said Gina.The Eastern Cape improved its pass rate to 70.6% – up 5.6% from 2017.The committee reiterated its call for more attention to be given to schools that are in rural communities.Gains should be applaudedAn ideal situation would be when top performers were drawn from all schools, especially in technical subjects and natural sciences, it said.Parliament's other committee dealing with basic education, the National Council of Provinces' (NCOP) Select Committee on Education and Recreation, also welcomed the 78.2% matric pass rate.The committee was of the view that the gains made within the system since the dawn of democracy should be applauded."This is despite many challenges that continue to face the system, especially ensuring that the quality of education is similar to all learners within the system," committee chairperson Lungelwa Zwane said.The committee also welcomed the overall improvements by provinces in ensuring that the majority, with the exception of Limpopo, achieved a pass rate of more than 70%. The committee has called for more focus from Northern Cape and Western Cape to arrest the decline experienced this year."We are always looking for a growth trajectory and not regression," Zwane said.The committee reiterated its call that the foundation for high matric results be perfected at lower grades, particularly the foundation phase. Much more focus should be directed at those grades and towards ensuring that learners were adequately prepared before they reached matric, it said.