An increasing number of migrants are failing at school, an official survey has shown. More than half fail English despite orientation services designed for them. Education groups have criticised Tung Chee-hwa for not spelling out measures to help new arrivals. An Education Department survey of 17,799 mainland migrants admitted to primary schools in the 1998-99 academic year found that almost 60 per cent were not up to standard in English. Close to 19 per cent were behind in Chinese and 15 per cent in mathematics. The number of newcomers failing to perform academically has been rising since the annual survey began in 1994. In 1997-98, 53.4 per cent were behind in English, 17.4 per cent in Chinese and 12.6 per cent in maths. 'The Government should review whether the different services are really benefiting the newcomers,' said Mervyn Cheung Man-ping, chairman of the Education Policy Concern Organisation. 'Preparatory courses should be made available on the mainland to maximise the time for the prospective newcomers to adjust to the new environment, especially the learning of English.' The department now provides a $2,000 grant for each new migrant student accepted by a primary school and $3,300 for a secondary school. But Lam Seung-wan, principal of Sheung Kung Hui Yat Sau Primary School in Choi Hung, where one-third of about 730 students are new migrants, said the money was not enough. 'The grant can provide 60 hours of tutoring for a student,' Mr Lam said. 'But how can a Primary Four student from a rural school, who doesn't even know his ABC, catch up with the rest of the class within 60 hours?' Mr Tung said in his Policy Address on Wednesday that the Government was looking at providing English readers and preparatory courses across the border for eligible migrants. The Home Affairs Bureau, which co-ordinates cross-boundary services, said English textbooks might be sent to the mainland for students to study before they arrived in the SAR. 'More systematic services and possible induction courses to be made available on the mainland are being worked out,' the spokesman said.