Péidú māmā (陪读妈妈), or study mamas are foreign women who accompany their children to Singapore while their children receive primary and secondary-level education. The study mama phenomenon began in 2000, after the Singapore Government relaxed its immigration policies to attract more foreigners. Most of the study mamas are from mainland China.[1]


The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority of Singapore possesses records that suggest that there are at least 7,800 study mamas of various nationalities, with two-thirds of the 6,800 study mamas in Singapore in July 2005 coming from Mainland China. Of these 6,800 study mamas, only 1,000 have been issued work permits.[1] Most working study mamas are employed in the service sector.


In an article in People's Daily, it is estimated that peidu mamas require RMB¥1 million (approx S$217,000) of living and education expenses for their child to receive education from Primary 1 to Secondary 4 in Singapore.[2] The Singapore Government allowed them to come to Singapore, primarily to accompany their children during their studies here.[1] Peidu mamas are only allowed to obtain work permits after staying in Singapore for a year and are permitted to work in certain service sectors only.[3]


The government places restriction on the employment of study mamas, arguing that their primary purpose of stay here is to take care of their children. Hence they should not be working, especially not as hostesses in bars or pubs at night. They are not allowed to work at food stalls, but can work in other services industries if given permits.[1]


In October 2004, the daughter of a study mama, Huang Na went missing and was subsequently found murdered.

In June 2006, a female Chinese national who owned a massage parlor, which allegedly provided sex services to clients, was stabbed to death by an unknown assailant in Ang Mo Kio. This drew public and media attention to vice-related activities at some of these massage parlors. In early July 2006, the government conducted a crackdown on illegal employment at the parlors and imposed stricter regulation on their operations. This led some peidu mamas to hold a protest outside the Chinese Embassy, despite the prohibition of such gatherings in Singapore.[3]

The Yishun triple murders in 2008, where two adult peidu mamas and the daughter of one of the adult women were killed in cold blood, had also shocked the nation for the brutality of the murders. The suspect, who was the boyfriend of one of the deceased peidu mamas, was sentenced to death for murder in 2012. The suspect had also slashed the other peidu mama's 15-year-old daughter, who survived the murders.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d "Who owes them a living?". The Straits Times. 2006-07-09.
  2. ^ "新加坡:中国"陪读妈妈"苦水多". Archived from the original on 2006-07-17.
  3. ^ a b "Study mamas in embassy protest". TODAYOnline. 2006-07-08. Archived from the original on 2007-03-11.
  4. ^ "Guilty As Charged: Man murders lover, her daughter and flat mate after quarrel over money for crab". The Straits Times. 18 May 2016. Retrieved 21 April 2021.