Experts in early childhood development have commended the new changes in schooling hours, saying they will improve the welfare of children. Last week, the cabinet announced that with effect from January next year, school classes will start at 8: 30am (they currently start at 7am), while official working hours will begin at 9am with employees having the option of working remotely in the first hour. The government’s communique stated that the changes were introduced to “promote quality education as well as improve both workplace productivity and family wellbeing.” Speaking to The New Times, Gilbert Munyemana, the Deputy Director General of National Children Development Agency (NCDA), said it is a good development since it will allow more resting time for children, which is a very important factor for their growth. “If children sleep enough, it is very good because rest is very important for their development,” he noted. Rachel Nyiracumi, an early childhood development program manager at Help a Child Rwanda, a non-governmental organisation focused on promoting children’s welfare, said going to school at 8:30am gives children an opportunity to have more time with their parents in the morning, and this encourages them even in their studies during the rest of the day. “Parents are able to smile for their children, say goodbye to them, and wish them a good time at school. These seem to be small things but they are very important for children,” she said. “When a parent spends enough time with their children, they get encouraged and motivated,” she added. She also talked about the importance of enough rest for the children. “When children don't get enough sleep, they are not going to concentrate in class or interact well with other kids at school. So the change was really needed because parents, too, need some time to look at what their children have been doing at school and assist them with their home-work,” she said. The new school hours will also make it easier for parents to properly feed their children, Nyiracumi said. Jeanne d’Arc Rugamba, head of Health Family Initiative, a religious-based non-government organisation that focuses on ensuring family stability, also praised the new school hours but called upon parents and guardians to put in effort in utilising them. She noted that the changes will facilitate children to have their breakfast well without pressure. “Children have been struggling with school hours, for example, some were eating their breakfast while half-asleep, and were driven in school buses while sleeping,” she said. “I agree that these changes are going to bring a lot of improvement, be it in their performance at school or their health because they will be getting enough time to rest,” she added.