Lactation rooms in more schools over next 3 years

Over the next three years, more schools in Singapore will have a room for mothers to breastfeed or express their milk, said Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education Low Yen Ling yesterday.

Currently, about 85 per cent of primary schools and 65 per cent of secondary schools have a lactation room. Among the junior colleges and one centralised institute here, 90 per cent have such a room.

For the remaining schools, the Ministry of Education (MOE) "will progressively provide lactation facilities where feasible over the next three years", said Ms Low.

She added that all institutes of higher learning are already equipped with lactation facilities.

Ms Low was responding in Parliament to Mr Louis Ng (Nee Soon GRC) who had asked about the current situation and if the ministry could make it compulsory for all schools and educational institutions to have at least one lactation room. Ms Low said lactation facilities were now a standard building specification for the MOE.

Mr Ng also asked if there were regulations prohibiting mothers from breastfeeding in public.

Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs Sun Xueling said there is no law prohibiting mothers from doing so.

"Indecent exposure and appearing nude in public are criminal offences. Mothers who are genuinely breastfeeding their children in public are generally unlikely to fall under these categories," said Ms Sun.

Mr Ng also asked if mothers are allowed to breastfeed their children on board public trains and buses.

In response, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Transport Baey Yam Keng said it was not prohibited and there is no regulation requiring mothers to be covered up while doing so.

Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said in a written reply to Mr Ng yesterday that there are nursing rooms at half the bus interchanges here, and the rooms would be provided at all new bus interchanges and integrated transport hubs. The MRT network will also have nursing rooms at all new interchange stations.

Mr Ng had asked about the situation at MRT stations and bus interchanges, and if it could be made compulsory for all MRT stations and bus interchanges to have at least one lactation room.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 27, 2020, with the headline 'Lactation rooms in more schools over next 3 years'. Print Edition | Subscribe