The Quebec government is failing in its fight to stem the province's high dropout rate.

Statistics Canada says the dropout rate in Quebec's public school system is the highest in the country and getting worse.

Last year, 29 per cent of public high school students failed to graduate -- up three percentage points from 2003.

Numbers vary based on gender and economic background

The numbers are worse for male students: one in three, or just over 35 per cent, don't graduate, while students from economically depressed neighbourhoods drop out at a staggering rate of 41 per cent.

In wealthy neighbourhoods, the numbers plummet to just six per cent.

About 18,200 teenagers drop out annually across the province.

Issue put on backburner?

The Parti Quebecois says it will lobby Premier Jean Charest's Liberal government to put the issue back on the agenda when the National Assembly returns to work in March.

A parliamentary commission was supposed to have tackled the issue but was derailed by general elections in the province last December.