Cape Town - There were screams, tears and hugs among pupils at Westerford High School in Rondebosch, Cape Town as they received their matric results, which contributed to the overall pass rate of 82.7% for Western Cape government schools.The national pass rate was 75.1%.The Free State came first overall with 86%, Gauteng came second with 85.1% and the Western Cape, which lost 3.2 percentage points, came third."I did much better than expected," said Rebecca Helman, standing with her with her elated dad Saul, who is a pharmacist.She was among the pupils who had arrived early to collect typed testimonials which could be used as character references."I knew she would do well," said Saul, who survived the brutal exam period confident that his daughter would be fine."There were 70 As for my subject," said a relieved life sciences head of department Keith Niekerk, as he handed the coveted matric certificate to pupil Keenan Manuel. The school achieved a 100% pass rate.INFOGRAPHIC: #MatricResults2017 at a glanceManuel's face lit up when he finally held the piece of paper in his hand."I am planning to do a BCom (Bachelor of Commerce)," with a broad smile, before he disappeared into the shrieking groups undulating around the results boards.Earlier, the teachers had posted the results in a solemn procession from the administrative block. After a brief pause, pupils surged forward to find their names.Western Cape Education MEC Debbie Schäfer was present with her daughters Alyssa and Caitlin, who bagged 11 distinctions between them."I am a very proud mother," said a beaming Schäfer. One daughter will study to become a teacher, and the other will do a Bachelor of Sciences.She said she never pressured her girls to do well because of her position as the province's education boss."I've tried extremely hard not to bring my position in this respect into the home."She was equally pleased that the province's overall pass rate was more than 80% again."Only us and the Free State did that," said Schäfer. She congratulated the Free State.However, there was a 3.2% drop in the Western Cape's results from 85.9% in 2016. The results would be analysed to find out why, and a plan will be put in place to improve them for 2018.The province made up for this by getting the highest mathematics pass rate in the country at 73.9% and came second to the Free State for physical sciences at 74%."I think our teachers and learners have done extremely well," Schäfer said.She added that African languages also showed a marked improvement in the results.The high pass rate was in spite of disruptions caused by crime and gangsterism in some areas of the province, she explained.WATCH: Class of 2017 achieves a 75.1% pass rateThis year the department has a director as chairperson of the province's school safety committee, which will bring them closer to the police's school safety measures. There is also a possibility that a private security company will be appointed specifically for school safety. She noted that the top achiever in the country, Janke van Dyk, was from Bellville High School - a public school - as was Mattys Carstens from Durbanville High School, who came second.Erin Solomons from Rondebosch Boys High School came third in physical science."A hearty congratulations to Janke, Matthys and Erin. We are very proud of you."Schäfer said that, although the mathematics and physical science results were good, the department was worried about business studies, geography, accounting and history, which performed at lower levels. These are expected to be scrutinised, with a plan for improvement.Meanwhile, at the results board, Matthew Kingwill cried with joy when he saw his marks.Kingwill already had two advanced programme subject passes in mathematics and English under his belt, from the Independent Examination Board exams.Hugging his maths teacher Kari Court, Kingwill said the pupils and teachers had put a lot of extra work in for the exams."I worked through thousands of old [exam] papers," said Kingwill, who plans to study towards a Bachelor of Business Science at the University of Cape Town.A total of 802 431 candidates registered for the exams nationally. However, only 651 707 wrote the exams.