EIGHT kindergartens have withdrawn from a new subsidy programme intended to improve quality of service, with some saying the new approach could erode standards. And another kindergarten, one of 252 approved for subsidies, announced yesterday it would withdraw. Principal of the profit-making Kwai Fong St Teresa Kindergarten, Wu Chiu-ha, said acceptance of the subsidy - and its conditions - would lead to deficits and failure to improve teachers' salaries. The Government's $80 million scheme, starting next month, aims to improve kindergarten education quality by helping to raise salaries of underpaid teachers and minimise the impact of pay rises on school fees. Conditions of the subsidy include ensuring at least 40 per cent of teachers are trained, following a government-recommended salary scale and accepting adjustments to school fees by the Education Department. Ms Wu, who is also the chairman of Hong Kong Kindergarten Association, said the department had approved an annual subsidy of $695 for each student, but it required a $696 reduction in annual school fees. 'That means no extra money will be left to help raise the pay of teachers to the Government's recommended level. 'Less income from school fees will also lead to deficits, and this would force us to close down.' According to the department, some of the other eight kindergartens opted not to take the subsidies because of potential financial problems created by the conditions. But education officer Chan Ho Yin-ling said some kindergartens had withdrawn because of an expected failure in meeting the requirements of the scheme, such as ensuring 40 per cent of teachers were trained. Mrs Chan said it was difficult of say whether the withdrawals reflected inherent problems with the scheme or individual problems with kindergartens. She said the annual subsidy rate of $695 a pupil was considered appropriate, but the department would review and improve the scheme. It had attracted 272 applications, mostly from non-profit-making kindergartens.