The department said having democratically elected SGBs would go a long way in contributing towards improving the province's matric pass rate from last year's 75,5% to a projected 80% this year.
Department spokesman Howard Ndaba said SGBs were critical in improving the quality of education and ensuring good governance in the education system.
"The importance of these elections cannot be overemphasised as the ability to produce quality education is dependant on the critical active role that should be played by the SGBs," he added.
"We must use this process as a catalyst to obtain our target of a 80% pass rate and beyond."
Ndaba said SGBs ensured that schools served the interests of the community and were also a vehicle to combat racism, sexism and other challenges.
"We therefore urge electorates to vote for people with relevant experience in different spheres who will be able to take decisions that will be in the best interest of schools and better the education of the province and the country at large."
He said these were people with experience in business, law, health, banking, education and other fields.
Elections will be held at 1458 schools between March 1 and 31, with not less than 66000 parents participating. Elected members of SGBs comprise parents or guardians of pupils at that school, educators, pupils in Grade 8 or higher, members of staff who are not teachers and principals by virtue of their official capacity.
Ndaba said the SGB election is the third most important democratic process after the national and local government elections.
He thanked outgoing SGB members for the job well done during their reign.
"Newly elected school governing bodies will continue the work of promoting school excellence, ensuring that schools run smoothly and efficiently and that they serve the expectations of parents," he said.