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The Education Ministry has decided that immigrant children and teens are entitled to easier testing conditions for 10 years from the date of their immigration, ministry officials announced Monday.

Until now, only students who immigrated after the age of 12 were eligible for easier conditions when taking matriculation exams.

This is part of a program aimed at helping immigrant students study Hebrew and integrate into Israeli society, as well as preventing dropouts.

"The ability of immigrant students to succeed in school is generally a key to their integration into society," said Education Minister Yuli Tamir. "Making the matriculation exams more accessible to these youths will ensure that the student's genuine ability is tested, without the difficulties in transitioning to another culture and language."

As part of the new rules, students who begin studying in Israel in grades 11 or 12 are entitled to be tested orally for their matriculation exams, and students who are older than 15 upon immigration can take most of their matriculation exams - Bible, literature, history, civics and math, as well as some electives - in Russian, Amharic, English, French or Spanish. However, the ministry noted the tests will only be given in other languages if it can find qualified people to evaluate the exams.

In addition, immigrant students taking their matriculation exams will be allowed to use a translated Bible, and any mistakes in the writing of those who immigrated during high school will be ignored.

Some 113,000 immigrants are currently enrolled in the education system, 55 percent of whom were born in the former Soviet Union and 14 percent of whom were born in Ethiopia.