MORE effort needs to be put into harnessing creative arts as a learning tool in schools.
This is the sentiment of veteran artist Alifereti Malai, who, among many other achievements, recently won the National Fine Arts Exhibition award.
This accomplishment has prompted him to call for more schools to include the arts in their curriculum.
"Not all students are academically-gifted and we must teach them that academia is not the only avenue, there are the arts too," said Malai.
The father of two is married and encourages his children to maximise and nurture their artistic talents.
Apart from painting freelance, Malai also volunteers at the Suva Prison under the Yellow Ribbon Project, where he teaches inmates to paint and carve.
He said these were the things he cherished in life and wished the same on others.
"I want other people to be able to feel this same pleasure in knowing they can make a living from their passions, even if they aren't academically qualified," Malai told this newspaper.
The 45-year-old artist hails from Burelevu in Naitasiri where much of his artistic inspiration is also derived.
"The millipede is my totem, it's my identity and I use it on all my contemporary art pieces," he said.
Malai won the arts award on November 19 at the Fiji National University's Raiwai campus where he was also acknowledged for his contributions to Fijian art. He was also a part of the Red Wave Collective, which he joined in 1997.